Recession reaches across the border

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The economic downturn is as strong a deterrent to illegal immigration as border enforcement. New figures by Mexico's central bank confirm what many Mexican workers and their families know: the U.S. recession reaches across the border.

Mexican nationals working in the U.S. sent a lot less money home in November. The drop was 10 percent over the same month last year. The sharp decline in dollars is the worst since the Mexican government started tracking that cash.

To be sure extra border enforcement made it harder to come here. But lost construction and service jobs made it harder to stay. And the slump effectively crushed the incentive to make the risky trip across the border.

At border crossings and on construction sites, immigrant workers told us they're struggling to make ends meet. Among the hardest hit young people (men and women) who support families back home and pay expenses in this country -- even if it is on a shared apartment in a low rent neighborhood.

And when I say families, it's millions of people, villages, entire regions of Mexico depend on those dollars. Remittances are a leading source of income for Mexico and news of the drop in "remesas" forced the peso down. It's the only benefit for those immigrant workers holding down jobs in U.S. Their dollars now are worth a few more pesos back home.

But it translates into more bad economic news for the border region and beyond. Mexicans who buy billions of dollars in Texas, Arizona and elsewhere will now have less cash to spend - in the U.S. even at bargain prices.