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Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2009--Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

CREDIT CARDHOLDERS' BILL OF RIGHTS ACT OF 2009--Continued -- (Senate - May 12, 2009)



Mr. VITTER. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up the Vitter amendment, No. 1066.


Mr. VITTER. Madam President, this is a very straightforward but important amendment. It would grant rulemaking authority to the Federal Reserve to set forth minimum standards for credit card issuers to establish a consumer's identity in order to prevent illegal immigrants--folks in the country illegally, breaking Federal law, including terrorists, in some cases, and including many others here illegally--from obtaining credit cards.

Madam President, we have all read numerous accounts of how this is actually a growth industry for some very large financial institutions. Not so long ago, in February 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported:

In the latest sign of the U.S. banking industry's aggressive pursuit of the Hispanic market, Bank of America Corp. has quietly begun offering credit cards to customers without Social Security numbers--typically illegal immigrants.

The same Wall Street Journal article detailed how Bank of America abused loopholes in customer identification rules to provide illegal immigrants with credit cards.

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 3 months without an overdraft. Most adults in the U.S. who don't have a Social Security number are undocumented immigrants.

Now, as we have a major credit crisis in this country, and particularly when we are throwing billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars at these same large financial institutions, I don't think it is too much to ask that they help us enforce our law, not to be a willing coconspirator with lawbreakers, and to actually go after the illegal alien market as a new niche market or a new profit center. I think that is offensive because we do have a serious illegal immigration problem that we are trying to get our hands around in this country.

So again, my amendment is very simple. It doesn't say exactly what all of the detailed rules have to be. It simply gives the experts in the Federal system--in this case the Federal Reserve--rulemaking authority to set forth minimum standards for credit card issuers to establish a consumer's identity, and specifically to prevent illegal immigrants and terrorists from obtaining credit cards. It shouldn't be too much to ask, curtailing a little bit of the big banks and big credit card companies' business to do that, to at least be that careful. It isn't asking very much, and I believe this would be an important step forward in the proper enforcement of our immigration laws.

I thank my colleagues for their attention. I urge all of my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, to support this commonsense, simple, but important amendment, and I look forward to a vote tomorrow.

I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.


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