May 2, 2017 / 4:36 PM / 3 months ago

Mexican remittances surge in March-central bank

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MEXICO CITY, May 2 (Reuters) - The amount of money sent home by Mexican migrants living abroad surged in March by 15.1 percent versus a year ago, central bank data showed on Tuesday.

Remittances to Mexico totaled $2.52 billion last month, compared with $2.189 billion in March last year. In February, the figure was $2.057 billion.

U.S. President Donald Trump ran an election campaign heavy on anti-Mexican rhetoric and threatened to halt transfers from Mexican nationals unless Mexico agreed to pay for a wall he wants built on the U.S. southern border to keep out illegal immigrants.

Mexico has said it will defend the free flow of remittances.

Remittances to Mexico totaled $26.97 billion in 2016, up nearly 9 percent from 2015, and the highest ever according to Mexican central bank figures dating to 1995. (Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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