This will be America's new slogan "Come to our country illegally and enjoy all the great benefits that we won't give to legal Americans." Check out what Bank of America is offering to illigals. They need to change their name to Bank for Illigals.
Continuing to court the burgeoning market of Latino immigrants, Bank of America said today it is test-marketing credit cards for Spanish-speaking customers who may not have Social Security numbers.
The cards, which critics say will enable illegal immigrants to put down roots more easily in the United States, carry higher than usual interest rates and allow users to charge only $500.
The cards are designed to be a first step for immigrants trying to build a credit history, bank spokeswoman Alexandra C. Trower said today.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, the nation's largest retail bank, is test-marketing the card program in Los Angeles County. It plans to introduce it nationwide if all goes well, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the program.
Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, Citibank and other big retail institutions are all intent on establishing relations with Latinos, whose growing numbers and economic muscle make them the largest "unbanked" segment of U.S. society.
Money transfer services are now widely available at big banks, allowing Latinos to send billions of dollars a year to relatives in Latin America.
Bank of America's SafeSend program allows customers with checking accounts to wire up to $3,000 a month to Mexico free of charge.
Other banks, including Citibank and Wells Fargo Bank, have experimented with providing mortgages to immigrants who have no Social Security numbers to identify themselves.
The banks instead allow the immigrants to establish accounts by using individual taxpayer identification numbers, or ITINs, issued by the Internal Revenue Service. They also may accept an identification card issued by Mexican consulates, known as the matricula consular.
The Los Angeles department store chain La Curacao offers credit cards to undocumented Latino immigrants with a matricula and has issued nearly 1 million.
Bank of America complies fully with all banking and antiterrorism laws governing customer identification, which permit the use of ITINs, spokeswoman Trower said.
Critics complain that it is easy for illegal immigrants to obtain ITINs, which they then use to gain access to financial services and tax benefits to which they are not entitled.
"At face value the program seems to be problematic," said Russ Knocke, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security. "It seems to be lending itself to possibilities of perpetrating identity theft or creating more risk for money laundering."