US remittances to Central America's big three hit record $17 billion in 2018

As the caravans keep rolling in, and Congress does its darnedest to prevent the construction of a border wall, journalists who follow the money can find some striking news.

The Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard has a good one on U.S. remittances to the three Central American countries whose nationals are leading the surge across our unguarded southern border.

He writes:

Immigrants from the three Central American nation's sourcing many illegal border crossers sent a record amount of money home last year, bringing the total this decade to $120 billion.

Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador all said that natives in the United States sent over $17 billion home last year alone.

Bedard's bar chart shows just how that number has risen:

Image credit: By permission from the Washington Examiner.

Obviously, that's the effect of a border surge that began to sharply accelerate beginning in 2014.  I wrote about that for Investor's Business Daily back in 2014, describing just the projections for a rise from Central America, and that's what we see now from this chart above.

What's more, the Wikipedia entry on the 2014 surge includes the standard argument of the Left that border apprehensions were down in the years that followed to suggest that the numbers of illegal arrivals was also falling.  Here is its chart.  Bedard's piece suggests otherwise.

The money figures shown above in the chart and in the Bedard report signal that the border flow was actually rising, apprehensions or not.  So the Left's current "narrative" about a declining apprehension rate falls apart with Bedard's report.  Apprehensions may have been down, but against this surging remittance number, the most likely explanation now is that the Obama administration just quit apprehending — to get the numbers down.  If apprehensions were down as the result of fewer people migrating here illegally, we wouldn't see the steepening arc of money in Bedard's chart.

Unless we're getting a lot of doctors and lawyers immigrating illegally from Central America now, with doctor and lawyer salaries the reason for the higher remittances.  Color me skeptical on that one.

Actually that isn't quite speculation.  This screen grab of a Google chart on the economies shows someone no one in the press has reported much given their narrative of poverty and oppression driving the surge.

That the Central American economies have actually been booming:

Life is good for doctors and lawyers and other people with decent education in places such as El Salvador.  Bedard points out that these countries took in more than $17 billion in remittances in the last year alone (and almost $16 billion in 2017), while the chart shows that their economies together in 2017 total more than $123 billion.  He says remittances amount to about 20% of their economies (and the data supplying his rough estimate is probably different from mine).  I see around 14%, putting the 2017 remittance figure over the 2017 GDP.  It's the same ballpark.

This means a heckuva lot of the economic growth in these places isn't from remittances; it's from their booming economies, which are likely linked to their free trade pacts with the U.S., as well as, in El Salvador's case, its official (and the other two's unofficial) use of the U.S. dollar in trade transactions. 

The press is reporting that these places are economic disaster areas and the impoverished border-surgers' choice to emigrate to the U.S. illegally can be only because they are escaping poverty.  What baloney.  The data show that border-surgers are actually fleeing booming economies, not Venezuelan-style hellholes, and are beefing their home countries' economies up further with their surging remittances, signaling more to come.  Big dollar surges into a country can very well propel lots of money for investment and consumption, as well as prop up the tax base of these countries, bolstering these governments.  That would explain why so many of the previous caravan border-surgers had such new-looking clothes and lifestyles of the rich and famous Instagrams, as well as some spectacular ingratitude.  Hellholes these place are not — they've got a lot of money out there to pay for their poor, from both remittances and their booming economies at home — and they don't do it.  Worse still, that $17 billion they took in last year, tax-free, and the $120 billion they took over the decade, tax free, subtracts that much money from U.S. GNP.  What a gift these places have been getting.  Forget not that they are also the largest recipients of U.S. aid.

With Bedard's report of the remittance surge, the case for building a wall — and taxing remittances — grows.  President Trump is right to do something about this scam, the left stands exposed for its phony narratives once again.

Image credit: The Washington Examiner — with thanks!