Rising Remittances As A Down Payment On The Wall?



While President Donald Trump and Congress haggle over funding for a border wall, billions more in U.S. dollars are flowing out of the country for Mexico and other points south.

Legal and illegal migrants sent $53.4 billion in remittances back to Mexico and Central America in 2018. That’s $53.4 billion – with a “B” – and more than double the projected cost of building a border barrier.

Remittances to Mexico alone reached $33.7 billion in 2018, up 21 percent from roughly $27.8 billion in 2016, the World Bank reported.

Remittances to Central America are spiking with a growing inflow of asylum seekers benefiting from U.S. catch-and-release laws. Wire transfers to Central America hit $19.7 billion last year, up from $15.8 billion in 2016. The southbound windfall includes payments to human-trafficking cartels.

With an estimated 83 percent of Mexicans who enter the U.S. illegally sending money home, a surcharge on remittances is one sure way for President Trump to make good on his promise to make Mexico pay for the wall.

Last February, Trump said, “There are many forms of payment. I could name 10 right now.” But a year later, the administration has yet to come up with an actual plan.

The open-borders and ever-helpful Cato Institute suggests that migrants could skirt a remittance charge by using bitcoin. Yet that assumes an unlikely degree of financial sophistication at the receiving end.

FAIR has reported that tapping remittances is neither a new nor an exotic idea. Oklahoma assesses a 1 percent fee on all personal wire transfers of cash to accounts outside the state and collects $12 million annually. Why not charge for funds leaving America?

At the current (and rising) rate of remittances, a nominal 2 percent surcharge on Mexico-bound funds would raise $674 million for a border wall in the first year. Slap a fee on all foreign remittances — $150 billion last year — and the 2,000-mile barrier is fully paid off within eight years.

Taxing foreign remittances is a bipartisan no-brainer that makes the political gridlock over wall funding unnecessary. Retaining pennies on the dollars leaving the U.S. economy can finance border security while letting foreign governments and their migrants know there are limits to America’s largesse.

 

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

15 Comments

  1. Pingback: Remittances: The “R” Word No One Talks About – Dr. Rich Swier

  2. avatar
    Stephen Russell on

    I say Use Govt waste to fund wall: CAGW.org alone & raise NO taxes.
    & drug cartel funds, trade with Mexico X% for wall.
    etc.
    Doable & now some Dems favor barrier

  3. avatar

    Immediately, when Trump said Mexico would pay, I thought that was how. Remittances make up their second largest source of GDP. Just add a federal tax to money sent there collected and remitted by companies that do money grams or bank transfers and make it tax evasion if not paid so they have another thing to add to list of illegal acts they’ve committed before they get sent back. Oh wait, that is too logical.

  4. avatar
    LaNell Barrett on

    Imagine the U.S.A. as the Demos say they want. Take our guns, open the flood gates on immigration, do away with I.C.E. and Homeland Security , etc, etc.,….
    That would be total chaos.
    How can they be so myopically stupid??

  5. avatar

    Migrant workers have been coming to this country (on seadonal visas or something to that effect; for many years)….even bringing small children with them to pick-up the oranges, or whatever, off the ground..We became very LAX in seeing to it that “seasonal workers” returned to their own countries.
    Somehow, these people were well “programed” to sending a lot of there earnings back “home”….used to living in “huts” or whatever…they lived here with multipal families in one house. In Chicago they had a fire in one of those “illeagal” multipal family home..MANY Children died…People were outraged..the cost to taxpayers (police, fire department, hospital, ect. was very high, I’m sure…multiply those situations by hundreds, or thousands of similar costs to taxpayers…yikes!! And I’m sure that a lot of those instances don’t even get reported anymore; due to the outrage…And then add the DRUG DEATHS !! BUILD THE FENCE, and force them to fill out the papperwork, and come here LEAGALLY or NOT AT ALL

  6. Pingback: Rising Remittances As A Down Payment On The Wall? | San Antonio Tea Party

  7. avatar

    Great idea, but wouldn’t that mean you have to have illegal aliens present in the country to pay a “surcharge” on remittances? Ted Cruz has bill that seems promising…

    “Ted Cruz that would use the seized funds of convicted drug cartel overlords for border security and border wall construction.

    Cruz cleverly named his bill the “Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order Act — or EL CHAPO Act — named for the arrested kingpin of the Mexico-based Sinaloa drug cartel, Joaquin Archivaldo “El Chapo” Guzman Lorea, from whom roughly $14 billion has been seized and would be forfeited if El Chapo is convicted.”

    Sounds like a good plan.

  8. avatar

    It Used to Be One American Manufacturing Created 3 Other American Jobs

    But if illegal aliens have their way it drops to zero created, for any type of employment in America.

  9. avatar

    Democrats say walls/fences are immoral and don’t work, except when they are around their houses. Pelosi hadn’t even been Speaker 24 hours when she was saying that every illegal here should be legalized and while at the same time “securing the borders”. In other words, just another Trojan Horse for open borders. That ignores the half of illegals who are here because they failed to leave by the date stamped on their visas. Legalizing them is the equivalent of putting up a giant sign saying just come here and eventually and inevitably you are here to stay.

    Her drones and sensors nonsense is just more horse manure to make sure the borders stay open. All those things do is recognize people coming into the country. If a group of 50 illegals, not an uncommon number, rush the border and there are only a couple border agents a couple miles away, most if not all of them are well on their way into the country. A wall/double layer fence/steel barrier, whatever term you want, will hold them on the other side of the border as they attempt to get over, giving time for agents to descend in mass on the area.

    We are 33 years from the 1986 amnesty, with many of the same double-crossers like Schumer who are still around and still trying to pull the same dog and pony show. He supported that 1986 amnesty, which promised a secure border, and he supported the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was supposed to mandate 700 miles of double layer fence, but only enough money for less than 50 miles was ever spent. How many times do the gullible sheep have to be lied to before they quit buying this stuff? We are in the middle of an invasion, 2000 people every day crossing the border and yet it’s not an emergency?

  10. avatar

    Checking senders IDs and charging 20% tax to those who are non-US ID holders (they need to be verifiable IDs) must be a way to go. The US Citizens and other US Legal workers have already been taxed for every dollar earned, so maintaining reasonable fees to the the US legal workers must continue.

  11. avatar

    I think this is a great idea and why the hell isn’t are government doing it??? Like it says in the article, “it’s a no brainer”. I just looked it up and Western Union is a business that charges between $1 – $10 per wire transfer so, if they can do it why can’t the American government do it too??? After all isn’t the government in every sense of the word a “business”???

  12. avatar

    Money shipped out of the US is banked by the families of those illegals; this is tax evasion, pure and simple. Everyone buying a wire transfer out of the country should be required to show ID and a Social Security Number and pay at least 20% withholding on the money.

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