Migration and Remittances: An Outlook for 2024

˙ Voces

Manuel Orozco, director of the Migration, Remittances, and Development program at the Inter-American Dialogue, provides insights into the migration and remittance outlook for 2024. 

Latin American Migration in 2024 

Reactions that cause migration flow are undeniable and non-negligible. Slavoj Zizek’s argument that people’s reactions on immigration are similar to those of dramatic experiences—a combination of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—are explained by the magnitude of the problem. 

That is because considering migration and remittances patterns in Latin America and the Caribbean takes you to problems that relate to trends that have existed since circa 2019.  

Migration patterns continue as they did between 2018 to 2023 and are driven predominantly by supply factors associated with political conditions (aspirational issues in particular), economic performance (slow growth and lagging social inclusion); and subsidiary factors, including natural disasters or an acute crisis.  

Transnational ties and the demand for foreign labor are also important considerations as they have played an intervening role. Incomplete explanations label Biden policies as insufficient yet fail to acknowledge that migration continued to increase even while Title 42 remained in effect during his term. Similarly, despite the existence of the Migration Protocols, migration persisted without a significant impact while they were in operation. 

It is important to consider the following issues: 

  1. The migration waves shaping mobility over the past five years are largely associated with local countries’ political dynamics. The recent migration waves, which have influenced mobility over the past five years, are primarily linked to the political dynamics within the respective countries of origin. Migration from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Cuba, Haiti, and Venezuela represents 60 percent of all migration. These countries are characterized by corruption, weak rule of law, and state fragility, which significantly influences their political landscapes. The intention to migrate from these countries has been 25 percent of households on average, meaning it is unlikely to drop under these circumstances as the appetite to leave is steep. 
  2. Mexican migration has also been on the rise which may be connected to more complex issues, including transnational family unification, demand for labor, and conditions in Mexico. 
  3. To some extent, it is likely that the administration’s measures to curb migration will succeed. By how much depends on the measures to be adopted including introducing a new approach to Title 42, border closure if there are over 4,000 daily entries (Migrant Protection Protocols — also called the Remain in Mexico policy), and an expedited and more restricted asylum process. 
  4. The various forms of migration are noteworthy: five percent consist of unaccompanied minors (UAC), 35 percent involve families, and charter flights were utilized by seven percent of migrants in 2023. 
  5. The current political debate gravitates between asylum relief and border closure. But the crux of the problem is foreign policy. Given this is an election year and the fact that neither contender wants to address foreign policy despite its second-place position on the electoral agenda, only drastic measures would reduce migration by a third to one million. The most likely outcome is a drop to two million.

Family Remittances 2024 

The trends and patterns shaping family remittances in 2024 relate mostly to migration, given that economic conditions in the United States point neither to inflation nor an increase in unemployment but rather a stabilizing pattern between supply and demand.  

An increase in family remittances will occur mostly from new migration rather than increases in the average remitted between 2020-2022.  From a conservative scenario projecting that migration will be 80 percent of what it was in 2023, growth in family remittances will be slower, but still growing, nonetheless, around six percent. However, the contribution of remittances will continue to be strong in the recipient countries’ economies. 

Migration to the United States: Legal Migration, Apprehensions, and Processes Under Review (Asylum)

Photo of migration data

Source: Apprehension/Encounter data: Nationwide Encounters, US Customs and Border Protection. Visa data: Visa Statistics, Monthly Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visa Issuances Data, Bureau of Consular Affairs, travel.state.gov. Asylum data: Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Refugee, Asylum and International Operations Directorate (RAIO)

Border Apprehensions at the US Border

Photo of migration numbers with Mexican migration numbers

Source: Apprehension/Encounter data: Nationwide Encounters, US Customs and Border Protection.

Photo of graph showing Latino unemployment

Migration and Remittance Data: Mexico and Central America

Photo of migration and remittance numbers

Source: Central Bank data; author estimates based on migration flows, natural annual sender increase without migration, and survey data on principal remitted annually.

Family Remittances as Share of GDP

Photo of table showing family remittances as share of GDP

Source: Central Banks, World Development Indicators, and IMF data for 2023.


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