Family remittances strong in 2017 but face future threats

Remittances from abroad grew 10.1% in the first 11 months of 2017 according to El Salvador's Central Reserve Bank.  The funds which Salvadorans living abroad send back to family members in the country totaled more than $4.5 billion and represent a significant component of the overall economy in El Salvador. 

More than 97% of the remittances are sent from the US.   The Central Reserve Bank attributes the solid growth in remittances to the strong US economy with low levels of unemployment.

There is a dark cloud hanging over the remittance flows, however, in the form of the Trump administration immigration policies.   In a little more than a week, on January 8, 2018, almost 200,000 Salvadorans will learn whether they will be losing Temporary Protected Status which granted them protection from removal and also the right to work legally in the US.  Although I have not seen statistics on the amount of money sent back to El Salvador specifically by TPS holders, it is certainly a significant amount.   In addition, tens of thousands of Salvadoran young people with DACA protection and work permits may lost those permits if the US Congress does not act to protect "Dreamers" before the program expires in March.   Finally, there is the group of more than 140,000 Salvadorans already in removal proceedings and more being detained every week by Trump's deportation force.

Growing numbers of deportations, and loss of work authorizations for TPS holders and DACA recipients, will cut into the level of remittances received in El Salvador in 2018 and beyond.