Deportations and Economic Crisis

A high-ranking official from the Mexican state of Guerrero told the press that U.S. deportations of his compatriots are having economic consequences. Netzahualcoyotl Bustamante Santin, Guerrero state migrant secretary, said stepped-up deportations mean a significant reduction in the migrant remittances which have emerged as a mainstay of the Mexican economy in recent decades, especially in Guerrero and other impoverished regions of the nation.

According to Bustamante, more than 28,000 migrants from Guerrero were deported from the U.S. in 2012, putting the southern state in the third place ranking for Mexican deportees’ place of origin. On a break from a tour of communities in the northern part of the state,  Bustamante said the economic effects of deportation could be gauged by comparing the amount of remittances received in Guerrero between January and March of this year, when $279 million entered the state, with the same months for 2012, when $309 million flowed into the entity.

“Thirty million dollars did not arrive in Guerrero during 2013, which means a systematic fall in the reception of remittances in the state,” Bustamante noted.

Taking a longer view, the migrant affairs official analyzed the five-years from 2007 to 2012, when migrant remittances in Guerrero declined from $1.5 billion during the first year of the time period to $1.23 billion in the last. The surge in deportations and parallel downturn in remittances, especially during the Obama administration, coincided with the Great Recession and serious financial blows to Guerrero’s tourism economy, which has yet to recover.

For instance, Acapulco continued its historic decline as a foreign tourist destination during the past few years. While 72,796 foreign tourists visited the port city in 2009, only 17,448 made the trip in 2012, according to the Acapulco Municipal Department of Tourism.

A bulwark of the Guerrero state economy, income from Mexican national and international tourism stagnated during the same years, declining from about $27.3 billion pesos in 2009 to $27.2 billion pesos in 2012. If it hadn’t been for Mexican visitors, the local tourism economy surely would have collapsed.

Perhaps not coincidentally, 2007-2012 also witnessed a major uptick in narco-violence and other crimes in Guerrero. The state was considered Mexico’s most violent one in 2012, according to different press accounts.

Bustamante said the migrant deportations challenge Guerrero and Mexico to meet new employment needs and create relevant programs. Like other Mexican states, Guerrero has a limited budget to support returning migrants. According to Bustamante, the current state migrant budget of about two million dollars is spread across 26 municipalities. Based on last year’s deportee numbers, the budget breaks down to about $70 per migrant.

Sources: El Sur, May 27, 2013. Articles by Salvador Serna. La Jornada (Guerrero edition), May 25, 2013. Article by Raymundo Ruiz Aviles.

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