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Over My Dead Bank Account!

11 September 2006

The Congressional House of Representatives wants to send them back. The Republican Kool-Aid drinkers want them all thrown in jail. But that’s not what Corporate America wants.There’s gold in them thar pockets, and we aims to scoop it out.

Protesters march in front of City Hall wrapped in American flags and carrying their “This is America, English only” signs. Minute Men, garbed in army fatigues and carrying their rifles and binoculars, cruise the dirt roads along the Arizona border. The conservative talk show hosts decry “sure they’re human beings, but they’re illleeegal! We’re a country that believes in the Rule of Law!”

Meanwhile, Corporate America is going about what it does best; making money off of them.

The following article inspired this post:
BusinessWeek online
JULY 18, 2005

“Embracing Illegals”
By Brian Grow, with Adrienne Carter and Roger O. Crockett in Chicago and Geri Smith in Mexico City

Picture this. Four or five years ago a couple crosses the US/Mexico border illegally. They had little money, no jobs, and lacked basic documents such as Social Security numbers. Guided by friends and family, the couple soon discovered how to navigate the increasingly above-ground world of illegal residency.

First they went to the local Mexican consulate, where each signed up for an identification card known as a matrícula consular, for which more than half the applicants are undocumented immigrants. Scores of financial institutions now accept the matrícula for bank accounts, credit cards, and car loans

Next, they applied to the Internal Revenue Service for individual tax identification numbers (ITINS), allowing them to pay taxes like any U.S. citizen — and thereby to eventually get a home mortgage. The IRS does not care whether you are a citizen or not so long as they can get your tax dollars.

Banks, insurers, mortgage lenders, credit-card outfits, phone carriers, utility companies, car dealerships, furniture stores, and anybody looking to make a buck have decided that a market of 11 million or so potential customers is simply too big to ignore. It may be against the law for this couple to be in the U.S. or for an employer to hire them, but there’s nothing illegal about selling to them. Yet all the while, farms, hotels, restaurants, small manufacturers, and other employers have continued to hire the undocumented with little regard to the federal laws intended to stop them.

Among the first to embrace illegals have been financial companies, eager to tap into the billions in so-called mattress money — the cash kept at home by illegals and others without bank accounts. Wells Fargo Bank and several other nationwide banks got the OK from the U.S. Treasury in 2001 to accept the matrícula. Since then hundreds of thousands of matrícula bank accounts have been opened. What’s more, 84% of illegals are 18-to-44-year-olds, in their prime spending years, vs. 60% of legal residents

With hundreds of thousands of illegal alien households earning enough to qualify for $95,000 mortgages, according to the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, ITIN and conventional mortgages taken out by illegals could be worth as much as $60 billion over the next five years. Now, in all major US cities where the immigrant population is predominant you will see ads for ITIN Loans. For some strange reason you don’t see them in the suburbs.

All this knits the U.S. and Mexico closer together; the nation and population distinctions are melting and blending. An economic flame is forging a new 21st century reality. Now they work, set up small businesses, buy cars and houses, go to movies, restaurants, watch soccer on cable TV. And it’s all in Spanish! Furthermore, the Mexican immigrant is sending back to Mexico some 18 billion dollars to keep the pump primed. The old Pat Buchanan, Tom Tancredo, Ann Colter, and Michel Malkin tag team are lying on their backs crying foul in this economic lucha libre. Cry me a river!

On Saturday, Sept 9th, there was a demonstration against illegal immigration in front of the Houston City Hall. About 40 protesters showed up.The Houston Chronicle notes. “Illegal immigration called threat to U.S.“ By ANITA HASSAN Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

However, President of Texans for Immigration Reform, Louise Whiteford, who also attended the rally against illegal immigration, said those who come to the country illegally may be confused about what they are getting themselves into. “The people that are coming over here think they are coming over for the American dream,” said Whiteford, 76. “But they are just going to become a part of the cheap-labor core.”

It appears, and I am careful about this, that older white folks just don’t get it. Or they are as racially and mentally challenged as those little white poodles they carry with them.

The problem for critics of illegal immigration is that corporate efforts to sell to the undocumented weaves them ever more tightly into the fabric of American life. This pragmatic relationship may be anathema to immigration critics. But day by day, the undocumented in the U.S. are finding it ever easier to save and invest their hard-earned dollars.

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