For mothers back home, remittance benefits come at a cost
It’s a decades-old story: Mothers in Mexico lose their children to immigration and better opportunities in the north. But for the mothers left behind the story is never old and always personal.
Many haven’t seen their children for years, even decades. Some have received news that their children have died. Still, they depend on their sons and daughters or even grandchildren to support them through money transfers called remittances.
Some are wired money home almost weekly; others receive funds sporadically; and some have stopped receiving money altogether, leaving families struggling to make ends meet in communities with few good job opportunities.
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Remittances are not only important to families but are an important source of foreign income for Mexico, where half of its 130 million residents live in poverty. In 2016, $27 billion was sent as remittances to Mexico, most of it coming from workers in the U.S., according to the Bank of Mexico. In fact, remittances passed oil as a primary source of foreign income in 2015.
Remittances were thrust in the spotlight when U.S. President Donald Trump took office, saying he might confiscate or tax them to pay for construction of a wall between Mexico and the United States. The pronouncement prompted a rush to remit and left those who count on them worried.
These are the faces of some of the recipients of those remittances, the faces of some of the mothers left behind.