Legal and illegal immigrants are funneling cash to home countries like crazy. Renews call to tax or cut off outgoing flow

 

(Government Works public domain)

A World Bank report published last month revealed that in 2018, legal and illegal immigrants living in the states funneled $33.7 billion in remittances to residents in Mexico.

And even that $33.7 billion pales in comparison to the $87 billion total that was funneled to both the Caribbean islands and the region south of the border that the World Bank refers to as “Latin America.”

“Mexico, the region’s largest recipient of remittances, accounting for about 40 percent of the
regional total, is projected to post record remittances estimated at $34 billion in
2018 — about 10 percent more than the previous year,” the report reads.

Remittances to “Latin America” likewise increased by 9.3 percent from 2017 to 2018.

The total sent last year, $87 billion, is roughly 17 times more than President Donald Trump currently seeks in funding to begin construction of a border wall along the U.S. southern border. It’s likewise double the total $25 billion that would reportedly be required to build the entire wall.

In light of this new data, calls have begun growing for the president to push ahead with the ideas he’s touted in the past to either tax or cut off outgoing remittances.

In a memo released in April of 2016 to The Washington Post, the president “said he would threaten to change a rule under the USA Patriot Act antiterrorism law to cut off a portion of the funds sent to Mexico through … remittances. The threat would be withdrawn if Mexico made ‘a one-time payment of $5-10 billion’ to pay for the border wall, he wrote.”

That plan never materialized. Nor did his plan to tax remittances to Mexico.

“President Trump is mulling a tax on cash transfers between immigrants in the U.S. and their relatives in Mexico as a way to fund his promised border wall without forcing American taxpayers to open their wallets,” the Washington Examiner reported during Trump’s first year in office.

According to social media users, it’s time for these ideas to be implemented:

The $53 billion cited by some Twitter users was from a Breitbart piece. Using the World Bank report, Breitbart concluded that remittances sent to Mexico and three unspecified Central American countries in 2018 totaled $53.4 billion, or $33.6 billion less than the total $87 billion sent to “Latin America.”

HERE’S WHAT YOU’RE MISSING …

No matter how you parse the data, the fact remains that legal and illegal immigrants send a boatload of money to their relatives every year. Moreover, large chunks of that money often wind up in the hands of murderous cartels, according to the Justice Department.

In a press release published in November of 2017, the department announced that it had just charged nine defendants with laundering drug money to Mexico through remittances.

“This investigation revealed how drug cartels use remittance companies to fuel their criminal enterprises,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak noted at the time.

“Drug Cartels are constantly looking for conduits like money service businesses to launder their illicit drug proceeds back to Mexico,” immigration official Gregory Wiest added.

It remains unclear why the Trump administration has yet to either put a stop to or tax remittances, though as noted before, a growing number of Americans think it’s time:

HERE’S WHAT YOU’RE MISSING …

Vivek Saxena

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