Video: Dennis Miller cashes out of Bank of America in protest of its new credit card program for illegal immigrants.
“At face value the program seems to be problematic,” said Russ Knocke, a department spokesman. “It seems to be lending itself to possibilities of perpetrating identity theft or creating more risk for money laundering.”
The bank’s program, while controversial, illustrates how the business world increasingly sees the country’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants neither as lawbreakers nor essential workers but simply as customers.
Wells Fargo & Co. and Citibank have launched similar initiatives to gain new customers within the burgeoning Hispanic community.
Wells Fargo began a pilot program last year in Southern California to offer home mortgages to immigrants who have lived in this country for two years. The customers are allowed to identify themselves using individual taxpayer numbers issued by the Internal Revenue Service instead of Social Security numbers. That’s the same system Bank of America customers can use to obtain credit cards under the new program.
“We are also looking at the possibility of offering unsecured credit cards to customers who may not have Social Security numbers,” said a Wells Fargo spokeswoman, Mary Trigg.
Bank of America, now based in North Carolina but once headquartered in San Francisco, still has its largest retail operations in California and is the biggest bank for Hispanics in the country, said Richard Bove, who follows the industry for Punk, Ziegel & Co.
While the emphasis might pay off, “the political backlash is going to be substantial,” he said.
That seemed to bear out Tuesday, after the program was reported in the Wall Street Journal.
“It helps to further embed illegal immigrants into American society,” said Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies. “It makes amnesty a fait accompli.”
Tancredo said he sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff asking them to look into the program.
“I hope the administration will shut down this reckless and illegal program before Bank of America extends a line of credit to a potential terrorist,” said Tancredo, a leader of the anti-illegal immigration forces in Congress.
A Justice Department official declined to comment.
Several military readers e-mail that the Bank of Illegals in America has a contract with the DoD. Reader D. writes:
Earlier today, after reading the news about Bank of America, I began my latest mission as an Air Force colonel. This one isn’t in Afghanistan or Iraq. Rather, it is an attempt to convince the Department of Defense to cease using Bank of America as our official travel card provider.
We in the military are required to hold a credit card issued by BOA for all official travel. Anytime I go to Baghdad or Baltimore, Anbar or Annapolis, I have to use it for lodging (the Anbar Al Jihad Hilton is first rate, ambiance magnificent), food and rental cars, etc. Because DoD has a contract with BOA, we don’t have a choice of what card to use, if we expect to get reimbursed for our expenses – well, ammo, body armour and other minor conveinences are provided free, but you get the idea…
Anyway, that BOA is providing cards to individuals that are in this country illegally clearly violates laws, as you point out, but more so, what potentially fiscal risk is BOA taking by issuing them cards? I wonder how sound the finances are of those who are entering our country illegally. Why would a “temporary worker” feel at all inclined to pay back money run up on a credit card? What potential impact does that have on the soundness of BOA fiscally? Should a bank who is the single issuer of travel cards for all of DoD along with several other executive branch departments, also be providing illegal aliens credit cards?
Reader Kyle writes:
After waiting on the phone for 30 minutes to speak with a Bank Of America’s customer service rep, I informed him that due to their recent decision to offer credit cards to illegals I wanted to cancel my account or file a complaint. After he tried to talk me out of doing that claiming they are documented…but conceding that they’re not “legal” US citizens I finally got the address to file a complaint. If you can please share the address with your readers so they’ll know who to contact:
Bank of America
Office of the Chairman/President
Wilmington, DE 19884
My prediction: The Bush administration will continue to do what it has done while the nation’s major banks pander to illegal alien customers–nothing. It’s the Bush Treasury Department, after all, that set the tone with its approval of the matricula consular phony baloney ID card used exclusively by illegal aliens–despite the warnings of law enforcement and homeland security officials.
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Flashback: Banking on illegal immigration
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