Why Immigrants Have So Much Cash

I have always had a great respect for immigrants. Half of my my family – wife included – were either born or live overseas, and the vast majority of my law firm’s clients are also immigrants to the United States or are foreign-born and permanently live overseas. So if I didn’t like and respect immigrants, I’d be pretty miserable. But, lucky for me, I’m quite happy.

As a natural born U.S. citizen, of course, I usually think like an American. If I don’t always think like an American, I at least understand how most Americans would think on any particular topic. So when I talk about my work with currency seizures by Customs — about people traveling with more than $10,000 cash — most Americans are incredulous.

They ask, “Why travel with so much cash?” “Where do they get the money?” and “HOW did they save so much cash?” Most Americans consider it suspicious, and unlikely.

Conversely, many of my (immigrant/foreign born) client’s will say things like, “It’s not a lot of money!” with all seriousness. I’ve also had clients tell me they just don’t feel comfortable unless they have at least $10,000 on them when they travel. And I’ve had clients say sarcastically, “Is $10,000 a lot of money?”

So my point is: many (most) immigrants and foreign-born are as surprised as Americans are about saving and traveling with so much cash as are Americans thinking $10,000 or more is a lot of money to save.

Why do I mention this? The foregoing is just a segue into my introducing a news story about how most Americans could not even come up with $1,000 in cash to cover an emergency, which is available here in full. I quote the introduction here:

NEW YORK (AP) — Two-thirds of Americans would have difficulty coming up with the money to cover a $1,000 emergency, according to an exclusive poll released Thursday, a signal that despite years of recovery from the Great Recession, Americans’ financial conditions remain precarious as ever.

These financial difficulties span all income levels, according to the poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Seventy-five percent of people in households making less than $50,000 a year would have difficulty coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected bill. But when income rose to between $50,000 and $100,000, the difficulty decreased only modestly to 67 percent.

Even for the country’s wealthiest 20 percent — households making more than $100,000 a year — 38 percent say they would have at least some difficulty coming up with $1,000.

In other articles on this topic, we wrote about how Americans might not flinch about having $10,000 in debt! Read Targeted Enforcement for Customs Money Seizure.