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BoA Policy Only Fosters Lawlessness

Location: Washington, DC

BoA policy only fosters lawlessness

A program to issue credit cards to people in the United States who lack Social Security cards is not aimed at illegal immigrants, a Bank of America spokeswoman told a reporter. Rather, it's to help people without solid credit histories.

That lie is not even thinly veiled. Social Security numbers have nothing to do with credit.

The Social Security Administration recommends that parents apply for a Social Security number for their child the day he or she is born. A 1-day-old child does not have a stellar credit history but is able to obtain a Social Security number. Social Security numbers are required to legally work in the United States, but few starting their first job have a stellar credit history.

In fact, there probably are millions of Americans without stellar credit histories who nonetheless have a Social Security card—because they have a legal right to live and work here.

The Bank of America program is clearly targeted at illegal immigrants. And that's a problem. It's a problem because it creates another incentive for people to illegally enter our country and stay. It's a problem because it helps perpetrate identity theft and money laundering. It's a problem because terrorists need money to operate within our borders. It's a problem because greed is undermining responsibility, and that undermines capitalism—the bedrock of America's economy.

One form of identification Bank of America accepts is a consular card issued by foreign governments from their consulates in the United States.

Consular cards were not designed to be identification, and no treaty recognizes them as such. Legal travelers, visitors and long-term residents carry passports, visas or green cards for that purpose. Consular cards are simply a contact card, such as a child might carry so his or her parents can be contacted in the event of an emergency.

From 1871 to 2001, only a handful were issued each year. In 2001, Wells Fargo began accepting them to open bank accounts, and since 2002, Mexico alone has issued more than 4 million to its nationals in the United States.

Consular offices make no attempt to determine whether the person obtaining the card is legally in the United States. In fact, the only people who need these cards are illegal immigrants, criminals and terrorists. Consular cards also are easily forged.

But some banks accept them to allow people illegally in the country to make financial transactions of any amount.

Even if drug smuggling or terrorism did not exist, policies by Bank of America, Wells Fargo and a few other financial institutions still violate America's interests. Every unskilled illegal immigrant who enters the United States for work takes a job away from an unskilled American, or, at the very least, drives down the wages for unskilled workers. Illegal immigration's downward pressure on wages is why even Cesar Chavez opposed illegal immigration.

Every unskilled illegal immigrant who enters the United States for work drives up healthcare costs for every American. And, every illegal immigrant we turn a blind eye toward weakens the rule of law our country is founded on.

We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws. The policies of Bank of America and Wells Fargo foster lawlessness, and lawlessness should not be tolerated in the United States—not from nationals of other countries and not from U.S. bank officials. But bank officials who blatantly lie cannot be expected to care about following laws.

Personally, I will not do business with banks that promote illegal activities.

— Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, is a senior member of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and chair of the 1995 Congressional Task Force on Immigration Reform. He has introduced 11 bills this year targeting illegal immigration.

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