In spite of United States efforts by 2010 remittances from migrants will reach US$ 100 billion annually, a significant increase from the US$ 62 billion of 2006 according to a report from the Interamerican Development Bank, IDB.
Dovelyn Agunias an analyst from the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think-tank, points out that the increase could mean that more money is being sent by formal channels such as banks, or "migratory influxes keep growing."
Immigration has become a most controversial issue in the United States where an estimated 12 million illegal or undocumented immigrants live, mostly from Mexico.
A migration legislation reform to legalize undocumented aliens and the creation of a temporary work program to organize immigration failed to be approved by US Congress last year and was one of the most pressing demands President George Bush collected in his recent visit to several Latinamerican countries.
With Congress under Democrat control another attempt is expected this year although the early launching of presidential hopefuls campaigns for 2008, in both US parties, could end neutralizing the issue.
According to Donald F. Terry head of the IDB Multilateral Investments Fund, (Fomin) the increase in remittances should not be a motive of celebration but rather evidence of the lack of economic opportunities for millions of Latinamericans.
"The challenge for countries of the region and institutions such as the IDB and Fomin is to find ways to channel these funds so they can have the greatest impact on development", said Terry.
Remittances to Latinamerica far exceed both direct foreign investment in the region, as well as foreign aid and are a chance for millions of families to avoid poverty.
For IDB the challenge is to increase the impact of remittances by channeling them to the formal financial system, so that those sending money and those receiving can have financial and banking records.
This will enable them to have a better access to credit and such services as savings accounts, insurance, pensions and loans for housing or setting up a business, added Terry.
Last year remittances to Latinamerica reached 62.3 billion US dollars mainly from the US and a few countries from Europe and Asia, up 14% above 2005.
Mexico leads with US$ 23.3 billion, followed by Brazil, US$ 7.4 billion and Colombia, US$ 4.2 billion. Several other countries were in the range of US$ 3 billion US dollars in 2006, Guatemala, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Peru, pointed out the IDB report.
In 2007 the remittances forecast is US$ 72 billion, said Perry.