What to Know What to Do
For many decades, immigrant families have come to America with aspirations and hope. That aspirational drive, along with a strong work ethic, means that there is often a strong commitment to also improving the lives of family members left behind. For some families, remittances are a major source of income; they may help pay for education, for the purchase of livestock or land, for tools or to help meet basic living expenses.
Fifty-four percent of foreign-born Hispanics and 17 percent of U.S.-born Hispanics say they send money to their home country. And research shows that undocumented residents in the United States send more money to their home countries than those who have attained citizenship.
Currently, remittances constitute a larger source of money to Latin America than official international foreign aid.
Due to a lack of bank access, especially in rural areas, a lack of confidence in formal channels, bribery and graft in the country of origin or costly financial services, many people revert to informal channels. This presents a big loss to immigrants and their families. For some transfers, it can cost up to 20 percent of the total being transferred.