MEXICO CITY -- The amount of dollars sent home by Mexicans living abroad jumped 13% in October as a weaker peso gave the greenback more buying power, Mexico's central bank said Monday.

October remittances swelled to $2.4 billion, up from $2.2 billion for the same month in 2007, the Banco de Mexico reported.

The peso dropped to record lows in October, briefly trading at 14 to the dollar as investors shed developing-world assets and fled to the relative safety of the U.S. currency.

A stronger dollar means dollars sent home buy much more in Mexico. It's a wage hike of sorts for the relatives of migrants lucky enough to still find jobs in the U.S.

Remittances are Mexico's second-largest revenue source. In the first eight months, 2008 remittances were down 4%. But October's jump cut the loss to 1.9%, with a nine-month total of $20 billion compared to $20.4 billion for the same period in 2007.

The strengthened dollar might even lure a new wave of immigration to the United States, analysts say. Emigration has been down 42% over the past two years, according to the Mexican government, because of beefed-up border security and an increase in workplace raids in the interior of the United States.

"Migrants who would otherwise be inclined to leave will stay in the U.S., and people who would be inclined to stay (in Mexico) will leave," said Michael Fix, senior vice president with the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

Mexican migrants now often earn 10 times more in the U.S. than at home, and the strengthening dollar will only encourage more to head north, said Dilip Ratha, a senior economist at the World Bank.

After a series of catastrophic devaluations in 1982, arrests of illegal Mexican migrants in the U.S. rose 30% to 1.3 million, according to a 1995 report by the University of California, Davis. Detentions are one of the few measurements that experts use to gauge the flow of illegal migrants abroad.
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