By Victoria Harrison
Latin American immigrants in the US will send home $30bn this year, a study by a US research group has said.
Sending money home to relatives can make all the difference
The Pew Hispanic Center said the money was essential for the survival of millions of families in Latin America.
About half of Latino adults living in the US send home between $100 and $200 a month, it said.
The figure is twice the amount of foreign direct investment to Latin America and almost double the entire US foreign aid budget.
For this reason, the centre says these remittances have benefits at all levels of Latin American economies - virtually keeping some poorer countries afloat.
While at the individual level the American money keeps millions of families above the poverty line, it is also an important source of foreign currency for the receiving countries.
Most of the money goes to Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, although a significant amount also goes to families in Central America.
The Pew Hispanic Center study shows the money tends to be received by the poorest families and is generally used for essentials such as food, housing and education.
But the author of the report, Roberto Suro, says it's not just about money.
He says the whole system represents a new type of regional integration promoted by ordinary people.
It's about the intense bonds between families which help poorer relatives overcome their economic hardships.
The study shows the remittances weren't hit by the slowdown in the US economy and that even a quarter of Latinos who have lived in the United States for more than 20 years still conscientiously send money back home.