I t is difficult to find a Mexican without any relatives who have emigrated to the US, and data released by the central bank this week showed that Donald Trump’s surprise election victory had an immediate effect on this community. Mexicans living abroad sent back $2.4 billion in November, a 25% increase from a year earlier.
“Trump’s election has been, by far, the most decisive factor in this increase,” Carlos Serrano Herrera, chief economist in Mexico of BBVA, a Spanish banking group, told The World Weekly. Research by BBVA forecasts a jump in remittances by more than $2 billion from 2015 to 2016 with transfers expected to keep growing in the following months.
Remittances represent Mexico’s largest source of foreign income, having overtaken oil revenues in 2015. Mr. Trump’s threat to block them unless the Mexican government agrees to fund the construction of a border wall cannot therefore be taken lightly.
Even before his inauguration, the president-elect is sending ripples through Mexico’s economy. On top of the spike in remittances, the peso has fallen to record lows and his proposed changes to corporate tax policy played an important role in Ford’s decision this week to scrap plans for a new plant in Mexico and take 700 new jobs to Michigan instead, according to CEO Mark Fields.
Other pledges, including the deportation of several million illegal immigrants, also have Mexicans on standby. “People are scared because they do not know how many things are going to change,” Nancy Von Tiscareño, from Mexico City, told The World Weekly.
In a country with a minimum daily wage of about $4, many Mexicans are not ready to give up on the American dream and have decided to expedite plans to cross the border before Mr. Trump can stop them. “We estimate the flux of emigration will be larger” during the months before Mr. Trump’s inauguration, said Juan José Li Ng, another BBVA economist.
“No other country stands as much to lose as Mexico if the incoming American chief executive fulfils his promises,” Jorge G. Castañeda, a former foreign minister, wrote in the Washington Post. Ms. Von Ticareño agreed: “We are screwed."