June is Immigrant Heritage Month, an initiative put forward by I Am An Immigrant to celebrate and highlight the importance and impact of immigrants and their contributions to our economy, culture, and identity.
For its 20-plus-year history, The Western Union Foundation has strongly supported immigrant- and refugee-related causes, and our company has been consistent in advocating for meaningful immigration reform in the U.S. and other nations.
This month, we want to celebrate how immigrants contribute to the rich tapestry that defines the United States, with a solid foundation and focus on family. While each immigrant experience differs from another, one thing remains the same—sacrifice. Sacrifices, such as the steep price of family separation, a stable and comfortable life, and more, are made in the hopes that immigrants can provide a better life for their families. The willingness and commitment to make these sacrifices for the chance at upward mobility is not one taken lightly and should be celebrated accordingly.
Today more than 43 million immigrants live in the United States – that’s one in six U.S. workers! The American Dream has been redefined by immigrants courageously leaving their homes, lives, and loved ones to seek opportunity. Upward mobility and opportunity are not just about generating wealth but making enough to support families across the border. Cross-border support accounts for 4% of Mexico’s GDP, and Mexicans account for over 25% of immigrant populations in the U.S.
Remittances sent from the U.S. can pay for food, family healthcare bills, or even cover internet service for younger family members. Almost 95% of remittances that arrived in Mexico in 2021 came from the U.S. While the average value of remittances is about $340, this accounts for only 15% of what an immigrant generally earns. The remaining 85% stays in the countries where they earn the money and is often re-invested into the local economy or saved.
Immigrants are known for their hard work ethic and aim to secure opportunities for themselves and their families. Industries that benefit most from immigrant labor are construction, professional and administrative services, manufacturing, hospitality, and leisure. A large majority of immigrants in the U.S. were essential workers that kept essential services and businesses running during the coronavirus pandemic. One-quarter of new U.S. businesses are founded by immigrants, including Genesys Works founded by Rafael Alvarez and NetSpend Corporation, MPOWER Labs, and Rêv Worldwide founded by brothers Roy and Bertrand Sosa.
Over 50% of immigrants trust mobile technology to handle their financial needs. Western Union’s app is just one example, making it very easy to transfer money to families across borders. Western Union allows bills to be paid on the go, transfers to recipient bank accounts, cash pick-up, and even enables mobile reloads from the U.S. to loved ones around the world. Our goal is to make things easier and more convenient because we know how important the money immigrants send home to family is.
Funding for the Underserved
Speaking of making things easier, Western Union Foundation and its partners provide tools and resources for workforce training, scholarships for higher education, and direct aid to communities in crisis. While talent may be universal, opportunity is not. So for over 20 years, WU Foundation has invested in changing lives for the better. Through Opportunity Beyond Borders, we collaborate with nonprofits around the world to provide migrants and refugees with the skills needed for better jobs and a chance at a better life. We also respond in times of disaster or humanitarian crises to aid in the rebuilding of communities. Overall, we have funded over 2,000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with over $131 million given.
Learn more about immigrant and refugee experiences by following #CelebrateImmigrants on social media. Check out Newest Americans, virtually visit the My America: The Exhibit by the American Writers Museum, or look into local events in your city.
Let’s all find ways to celebrate the immigrants in our lives.