In 2020, economic charts show that Mexicans broke records by sending billions to their loved ones in Mexico.
The effect of COVID-19 on the US economy and workforce was a severe shock, primarily for low-income families. During the shutdown in the spring and subsequent months, the unemployment crisis took over, along with rising COVID cases and deaths. Through it all, Latinos in the US continued to send money back to their loved ones in their native country.
Economic figures show that Latinos in the US send billions each year to Mexico, Central America, and throughout Latin America. The pandemic only deterred remittances briefly, and then it surged once again.
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What’s even more startling is that despite Latinos being affected by COVID-19 more than other communities, they continued to send money. Reuters reports an all-time high of remittance figures in March of this year, since records began in 1995. The six best months for remittances were all in 2020.
According to Pew Research, in six countries (included in the analysis): Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, remittances fell 17% ($981.2 million) in April 2020 compared to the previous year.
However, by August, those figures increased dramatically and broke records. According to Reuters, in Mexico alone, the country saw the third-highest level on record in September ($3.568 billion) after hitting its second-highest level in August ($3.101 billion).
“It is going up because there is a need,” Margarito García, a Texan banker, told The Dallas News. “You have to depend on your family.”
These Latin American countries included in the Pew Research analysis depend heavily on remittances, which contribute to their economy, especially countries like Honduras and El Salvador. This year, Mexico and the Dominican Republic received more remittances through the first six months of 2020 than in the same period in 2019—up 10.6% and 0.5%, respectively.
So, how are Latinos able to send money despite being a vulnerable community amid economic and health crises?
Many Latinos say they have no choice in the matter. They must help their family back home regardless of their troubles in the US. An extensive report by Pew Research shows that Latinos send money to help pay for rent, utilities, and food, rather than for savings or to support a business endeavor.
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Silvana Alaníz, the owner of El Rincón restaurant in San Ysidro, California, told the Los Angeles Times in September that she was able to survive the pandemic through the economic crisis because all of her children work. She also said cutting off family back in Mexico isn’t what their community is all about.
“That is not an option. That is just the culture. We don’t do that. For Mexicans—for Latinos in general; parents, family, grandpas, even uncles sometimes—the whole family stays together,” she told the LA Times. “We stick together.”