Mexicans living abroad sent home a record $28.8 billion in remittances in 2017, an increase of 6.6 percent from the year prior.

Mexico's central bank said Thursday that December remittances also totaled $2.6 billion.

The increase coincided with the first year of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, but it was unclear if there was a connection. Remittances have been rising steadily to become Mexico's most important source of foreign income after auto exports, which have recently averaged almost $34 billion per year.

Remittances far surpassed the $20 billion that Mexico earned from oil exports and the $19 billion from tourism in 2017.