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Bank of America

Earlier this year, Bank of America announced that they would be awarding illegal immigrants with credit cards. According to the email that was received from Bank of America, “only those with the proper documentation will be given credit cards.”[1] When received, it seemed as though Bank of America actually believed that the American public would accept whatever was being told to them. However, the irony of the story is not being lost to those legal immigrants and their families, who have followed the law, yet cannot receive credit cards.

The only credit cards that are available to legal immigrants in other parts of the country, other than in Los Angeles where this program was started, are prepaid credit cards which are what they called. There is no “credit” involved and only after having an account for a year, can one even apply for a credit card, even though there still is no guarantee that one will be issued to the law abiding individual.

In a country that is facing one of its toughest interior hurdles to date: the war on terrorism, and with twelve million immigrants, many of whom are hard working yet create a strain on the school, health care and

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prison system, causing billions in tax payers dollars, while being in this country illegally, and now such behavior is being rewarded by Bank of America, has warranted a strong backlash from current Bank of America customers.

This, coupled with the outrage that comes from those immigrants who do follow the laws of this country and those who want America’s laws not to be enforced and for America to have strong borders, have reacted to this and to a company that is unapologetic for their stance regarding the willful breaking of America’s laws by giving aid to those who would ignore America’s immigration laws. Also, since America is doing little to enforce their immigration laws, it seems as though there is little that will be done to stop Bank of America and the companies that will surely follow.

Wells Fargo and Citigroup have announced similar plans and as long as there is money to be made, more American companies will follow. If dozens of fortune 500 companies and their CEOs will gladly ship literally, millions of American jobs, from American invented industry overseas, then what will stop them from selling out the law abiding American and immigrant worker in the face of larger profits? As of today, the answer is nothing!

There is an estimated twelve million illegal immigrants in America but the number may be as high as twenty million due to the nature of those counted, to want to remain under the radar of governmental authorities, while under the erroneous assumption that they will be deported due to their illegal status in this country.[2] Bank of America saw the explosion of immigrants, mostly Hispanics coming from Mexico and Latin American countries, emigrating to the South West and realized that there were profits to be made.

In the largest concentration of illegal immigrants in the country: Los Angeles, California, Bank of America started issuing credit cards to illegal immigrants. According to a statement received by Bank of America is preparation for this report, their human resources director said that the program was being run in accordance with the immigration laws of this country. However, the facts show a very different picture, a picture that in the lengthy response to inquiries into their program, seemed to miss the very essence of the problem.

If an individual is illegal, than whatever paperwork is offered to a bank official when attempting to obtain a credit card, whether it be a permanent residence card, a driver’s license or a social security card, is of no consequence since those have simply been forged. Also, in the state of California, until recently, one can receive a legal; drivers license while government officials knowingly are aware of an individual’s illegal status. This caused great outrage on a national stage when the major news sources caught wind of this and the governor has made attempts to scale back on this obvious irony of the immigration laws.

Also, social security cards can be forged. What was stunning in the response by Bank of America was the fact that the dots were not being connected.  If one is illegal, then whatever paperwork is being submitted, is not authentic and is therefore made null and void.  Requests to comment on this obvious discrepancy were ignored.

What is the greatest irony is the fact that legal immigrants cannot obtain credit cards, but illegal immigrants are able to. This frustration is seen within Marie Byrne, an immigrant from Ireland who came to America on a work visa program, met an American citizen, fell in love and was married in October 2005. Even though she had married a legal citizen, the amount of paperwork required in order to secure her status as a permanent resident was mind-boggling as she experienced first hand, the extreme level of ineptness, a particular American autocracy.

This did not deter Mrs. Byrne who submitted to the five vaccination shots, driving over 1900 miles to the various immigration meetings and interviews that she was required to attend, the more than $1500 in fees that needed to accompany her processing fees, along with countless other concessions that needed to be adhered to in order for her status to be legal in America. As to this day, she is still dealing with immigration, although she has been granted legal status over a year ago.

Mrs. Bryne has had a legal checking account with Bank of America since April 2006. Yet when she tried to obtain a credit card as recently as January of 2007 and various other times since April 2006, she was denied due to her permanent resident status.  She was offered a prepaid credit card which was a credit card in name only but acted rather as a check card and was no use to her.

So it came as a shock to her when it was announced that her bank, Bank of America, would be issuing credit cards to illegal immigrants, individuals who did not deem it necessary to comply with the laws of this nation as she felt the responsibility to do so and who it seemed, was being rewarded for their successful attempts to break the law. Mrs. Byrne commented: “This is amazing to me. My husband has had the same account with Bank of America for over nine years and I was put on his account in April of 2006.

We have had no problems with our account and I wanted to receive a credit card from them.  I am married to an American citizen and am a legal permanent resident but since I live in Illinois instead of California and since I am legal and not illegal, I cannot get a credit card. This country does not make sense to me more and more.”[3] It would seem like an understandable reaction to this level of irony that now exists in one of the largest banking institutions in America. And what only adds salt to the wound, is the unapologetic stance of Bank of America officials.

The statement from Bank of America states:”The new Bank of America program is open to people who lack both a Social Security number and a credit history, as long as they have held a checking account with the bank for three months without an overdraft.”[4] Also, it has been reported that officials at Bank of America have been puzzled by the negative reaction that they have received. To this, Lou Dobbs, the host of CNN’s Moneyline and a champion of the reinforcement of our borders and the nation’s immigration laws, commented bluntly: “”Well, is she just some kind of idiot?

Why would she expect there not to be a reaction to providing services from the Bank of America to people who do not have Social Security cards, who are in this country illegally? What kind of — what kind of moron would expect any kind of reaction other than that?”[5] This seems to be the prevailing opinion among many Americans who are frustrated by the mixed message that Bank of America is giving to illegal immigrants who only strengthen the message that America is giving to anyone wanting to come to America is apathetic about America’s immigration laws.

Every since the Reagan Administration in 1986, offered amnesty to the then three million illegal immigrants, their numbers have exploded, and in the minds of many Americans, put this nation’s schools, health care facilities and safety at risk.[6]

However, the inventors of this program feel otherwise: “’These people are coming here for quality of life, and they deserve somebody to give them a chance to achieve that quality of life,” said Brian Tuite, the bank’s director of Latin America card operations and one of the architects of the program.”[7] There is a major difference in ideology that is present in this country. However, it is the vast majority that is being ignored.

According to a poll at Lou Dobbs’ Moneyline, whose findings were not uncommon, found that of those polled, over 93% feel that Bank of America is undermining the authority of America’s immigration laws and the national safety of the country. What also seems to be a problem that Bank of America is ignoring are the Patriot Act and its laws which are in direct resistance to its laws which state with regard to this problem that states that one must have valid identification. Also, the fact that Mexico’s number one source of revenue is coming from illegal immigrants in America and what they earn from the American economy.

Individuals are allowed to wire up to $3000 from their Bank of America accounts, free of charge. It seems that the law means nothing to Bank of America and their bottom line.[8] The Department of Homeland Security has promised to investigate Bank of Americas program. “The Department of Homeland Security today said, “We are not privy to all of the details of the program. We will be looking at it very carefully.” And added, “It facilitates the risk of identity theft,” and said money laundering through the program could be “entirely possible.

It is a source of much frustration to the majority of Americans who follow the laws of this country, partly out of a feeling of morality but also from the fact that they have no choice to do otherwise. This is not the case for the more than twelve million immigrants in this country who have chosen to ignore America’s immigration laws and live in America illegally.  What is seen as a slap in the face to American immigration laws, as well as the efforts of legal citizens who have had bank accounts with Bank of America, specifically, Marie Byrne, an immigrant from Ireland who married an American citizen, only adds salt to the wound of America’s immigration problem.

Bank of America has expected the American public to accept their explanation of their banking practices in this venture. In an explanatory response to the writing of this essay concerning their program in giving credit cards to illegal aliens, it was stated that credit cards are only being given to those with the proper identification. A follow up question/statement while preparing for this essay which said: ”If an individual is here illegally, then the documentation that they are presenting in order to initially obtain the credit card, is done so under false pretenses as the documentation must be a fake. If it wasn’t, then they would not be illegal in the first place. This comment was ignored and there were no further statements from Bank of America either via in response to phone calls or email inquiries into their ironic

WORKS CITED

Interview with Marie Byrne.  March 20, 2007

Dobbs, Lou.  Lou Dobbs MoneyLine  New York: CNN Production. February 14, 2007

Johnson, Mary.  Illegal Immigrant Debate Heats Up. Charleston Times Courier.  C1 February 18, 2007

O’Reilly, Bill The O’Reilly Factor.  New York: Fox News. February 12, 2007

February 15, 2007 Bank of America Caught up in Controversy February 18, 2007 Section 3 pg. 6

www.bankofamerica.com

Email responses from www.bankofamerica.com March 21, 2007

www.cbs2chicago.com  Bank of America Woos Illegal Immigrants. February 15, 2007.  Downloaded March 21, 2007

www.nhpr.org

[1] Johnson, Mary.  Illegal Immigrant Debate Heats Up. Charleston Times Courier.  C1 February 18, 2007

[2] Dobbs, Lou.  Lou Dobbs MoneyLine  New York: CNN Production. February 14, 2007

[3] Interview with Marie Byrne.  March 20, 2007

[4] Email responses from www.bankofamerica.com March 21, 2007

[5] Dobbs, Lou.  Lou Dobbs MoneyLine  New York: CNN Production. February 14, 2007

[6] O’Reilly, Bill The O’Reilly Factor.  New York: Fox News. February 12, 2007

[7]Johnson, Mary.  Illegal Immigrant Debate Heats Up. Charleston Times Courier.  C1 February 18, 2007

[8] www.cbs2chicago.com Bank of America Woos Illegal Immigrants.  February 15, 2007.  Downloaded March 21, 2007

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