WASHINGTON – The U.S. economy would collapse if the flow of Latin American immigrants is stopped,Inter-American Development Bank officials said as they released a report Wednesday on the money immigrants sent home.
According to the report,called “Sending Home Money: Leveraging the Development Impact of Remittances,” 12.6 million Latin American immigrants in the United States will send about $45 billion to their home countries this year.
IDB's Multilateral Investment Fund,a bank that promotes private investment,commissioned Bendixen and Associates,a U.S. independent polling and research firm,to conduct a survey of immigrants.
The firm also did interviews with focus groups of remittance senders living in New York,Los Angeles and Miami and recipients in Mexico,Colombia,El Salvador,Guatemala,Ecuador,the Dominican Republic,Jamaica and Haiti.
The total estimated income of Latin Americans in the U.S. for 2006 is about $500 billion,and according to the report,90 percent of that stays in the United States.
Donald F. Terry,manager of IDB's Multilateral Investment Fund,said that,if the U.S. government stops immigration,the United States economy would collapse,as the source of dynamism and growth for the U.S. economy would be lost.
“There is a match. There is a development imbalance,and there is demographic imbalance. Latin Americans need jobs; the United States needs workers. The equation is very obvious,” Terry said.
“Young people who come from Latin America come to find work here because of the dynamism of the U.S. economy,but they contribute to the dynamism of that economy,” Terry said.
The report showed the number of Latin American immigrants who send money home on a regular basis has risen from 61 percent in 2004,to 73 percent in 2006,and the average amount sent went from $240 to $300 in the same period.
According to the report,the states where more money is sent to Latin American are California with $13.19 billion; Texas,$5.22 billion; New York,$3.71 billion; Florida,$3.08 billion; Illinois,$ 2.58 billion; New Jersey,$1.87; Georgia,$1.73 billion; Arizona,$1.37 billion; North Carolina,$1.22; and Virginia,$1.11 billion.
Pollster Sergio Bendixen,president of Bendixen & Associates,said that if the wishes of some persons in the U.S. Congress became true and the flow of legal or illegal immigration were cut off,the American economy would collapse.
Bendixen pointed out Latin American immigrants' contributions to sectors such as agriculture,construction,tourism and service industries and highlighted the contribution they made to both the U.S. and their home countries.
The report said that Mexico will be the major recipient of remittances this year,getting $20 billion,but blocking immigration at the border could change that.
“The authorities might achieve the process to be harder,but they will never be able to stop it,” Bendixen said.
The report also showed that immigrants are increasingly using banks and credit unions to transfer money.
In 2004,international money transfers companies such as Money Gram and Western Union did 78 percent of remittance transactions. During 2006,the use of wire services has decreased to 63 percent.
The study found that bank use rose from 8 percent in 2004 to 19 percent in 2006.
Bendixen and Associates did Spanish-language telephone interviews with 2,511 Latin American immigrants May 3-25. The poll has a margin of error of 2 percent points.
To read the entire study,go to the IDB Web site.