Bank of America Boycott

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Boycott Bank of America News & Press Releases

Bank of America gets subpoenas, reports SEC probe

Thu Aug 7, 2008 5:39pm EDT
NEW YORK (Reuters)
- Bank of America Corp, the largest U.S. retail bank, said on Thursday it received subpoenas and requests for information relating to auction-rate securities from federal and state government agencies.

Separately, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said Countrywide Financial Corp, the mortgage lending giant it bought last month, has responded to subpoenas from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and faces a formal investigation by that agency.

In addition, Bank of America said it received subpoenas, interrogatories or civil investigative demands from a number of state attorneys general regarding municipal derivatives transactions from 1992 to the present.

Bank of America said it is cooperating with regulators. It disclosed the various matters in its quarterly report filed with the SEC.

Auction-rate debt has interest rates that reset through periodic auctions. Once thought safe, much of the market has been frozen since February, when Wall Street brokerages stopped supporting the debt.

Earlier on Thursday, Citigroup Inc agreed to buy back more than $7 billion of auction-rate securities and pay a $100 million fine to settle regulatory charges that it fraudulently misled investors about the debt's risk. Other financial companies have also faced regulatory inquiries or charges.

Countrywide, meanwhile, is also under investigation by the FBI, authorities have said. The FBI last month said it had 21 corporate targets in its investigation of potential corporate fraud in the mortgage industry.

California, Connecticut, Florida and Illinois have all sued Countrywide over its lending practices.

Separately, Bank of America said it has bought $525 million of assets this quarter as part of a restructuring of a structured investment vehicle, in a bid to support some money market funds at its Columbia fund unit.

It expects other SIVs to be restructured and this could result in further losses.

Bank of America shares closed down $1.93, or 5.8 percent, at $31.52 on the New York Stock Exchange. They have fallen 24 percent this year.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; editing Carol Bishopric and Andre Grenon)

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Bank of America's Profit Drops 77 Percent

Monday, April 21, 2008 7:49 AM

-- Bank of America Corp. said Monday its profit fell 77 percent in the first quarter, hurt by trading losses and a $3.3 billion increase in reserves for problem loans.

The Charlotte-based bank, which recently bought struggling mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, reported earnings of $1.21 billion, or 23 cents per share, on $17 billion in revenue.

Analysts on average expected a profit of 41 cents per share on revenue of $16.5 billion, according to Thomson Financial.

The bank's shares fell 67 cents to $37.89 in premarket trading.

"These results clearly did not meet our expectations," Chief Executive Ken Lewis said in a statement. "The weakness in the economy and prolonged disruptions in the capital markets took their toll."

Results included $1.31 billion of trading losses compared with income of $1.66 billion a year earlier. This was driven primarily by $1.47 billion in write-downs of collateralized debt obligations, a security often backed by subprime mortgage loans, and $439 million for loans to fund leveraged buyouts. Trading losses were $5.15 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Bank of America said the $3.3 billion increase in reserves was part of a $4.78 billion increase in provisions, to $6.01 billion, "due to rising credit costs - particularly in the home equity, small business and homebuilder portfolios."

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N.C. county spurns BoA for offering credit to illegals
Posted on Friday, April 27 UTC
The Times News

GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) - Gaston County commissioners spurned Bank of America on Thursday and awarded a contract to Wachovia Corp. because Bank of America offers a credit card that can be used by illegal immigrants.

The deal, which will cost the county about $120,000 in interest over four years, was approved by the board - all Republicans - without discussion.

County officials said the cost would be offset by savings from trips to the bank, noting that the nearest Wachovia branch is closer to the county administration building than the nearest Bank of America branch.

"If we put a dollar value to staff time, there is not a difference," said County Manager Jan Winters.

The county would have an average daily balance of about $10 million.

Topics: Bank of America Boycott, Wachovia Corp. Bank, Gaston County, NC, Illegal Aliens, Illegal Immigrants, Social Security Fraud, Matricula Cards, Citigroup Inc, Wells Fargo Bank,

Commissioners last fall directed county staff to cut programs and services that illegal immigrants could use.

Bank of America started a pilot program in the Los Angeles area late last year that didn't require a Social Security number to sign up for a credit card. The Charlotte-based bank insists the card isn't specifically designed to attract illegal immigrants, but acknowledges that could happen. The goal of the card is to introduce customers to banking and help build a credit history, bank officials said.

Citigroup Inc. has had a similar program for years and Wells Fargo & Co. officials have said they are considering such a card.

Wachovia, also based in Charlotte, does not have a similar credit card program. Wachovia, like Bank of America and other banks, accepts identification issued by Mexican consulates to customers who want to open an account but don't have Social Security numbers.

“Discuss this article in our Discussion Groups and meet CITIZEN ACTIVISTS!”

Bank of America Boycott Supporters:
April 21, 2007

I just spoke with a source in Washington that tells us that Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citibank have all of their lobbyists swarming members of Congress and pushing them to legalize the majority of illegal aliens in America. If they accomplish this, the illegal aliens will have no trouble banking with Bank of America or any bank in America. American consumers will have no options of banking with banks that do not support illegal aliens.

All eyes are now on DC. We leave tomorrow to join a historic and unprecedented coalition trying to stop this Amnesty Open Borders plan. It is time for all Americans to stand up and speak out against these plans that will only bring more illegal aliens into our nation.

You are welcome to join us. We also need your help from home! We need the phone lines ringing off the hook in DC starting at 9am Monday morning through Thursday April 23,25,25

Please help us with this. You can see video and text reports blogged live from these historic events and you can sign up to help at


Please read this important release. This may help you to put a stop to this amnesty attempt. We need you to forward this article to all of your contacts, members of the media, elected officials, and online communities.

Please read and distribute

Why the illegals must go!
April 19, 2007
by William Gheen
President, Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC)

Thank you for your continued support of the Bank of America Boycott. We are having an impact and you will receive important news soon about some of our successes.

Kind Regards,

William Gheen

County switching banks over immigration issue
by Kevin Ellis - author's blog
April 13, 2007

Gazette City Editor

Some Gaston County commissioners say they don’t want county government doing business with Bank of America because they believe a credit card marketing strategy favors illegal aliens.

A spokeswoman with the Charlotte-based banking giant said commissioners are making an uninformed decision.

On Thursday, commissioners failed to approve a staff recommendation to give an account to Bank of America because of a pilot program that allows those only in the Los Angeles area to obtain secured credit without having a Social Security number.

“From what I’m hearing it’s not going to be Bank of America,” said Commissioner Tom Keigher. “It’s going to be anyone but (Bank of America).”

For Gaston County and the bank the decision has financial ramifications.

The county had an average daily cash balance of $10 million in that account in the past year, said county Finance Officer Bill Bradley. The next best bid to Bank of America could cost the county about $31,000 more per year, Bradley said.

Critics of the bank’s policy, which include U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick of Charlotte, say the pilot program allows undocumented workers to obtain credit. Myrick recently took her personal accounts to Wachovia in protest.

The controversy prompted Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis to defend the pilot program in an opinion piece he authored in The Wall Street Journal.

“First, the program is not about illegal immigrants, and never was,” Lewis wrote in the Feb. 22 edition of The Wall Street Journal. “It is designed to help Bank of America customers build a credit history. Second, we believe we have an obligation to serve all those in our country who are legally eligible to receive services. To do less would be discriminatory and unfair.”

Bank of America spokeswoman Betsy Weinberger said Gaston County commissioners do not have a clear understanding of the pilot program.

For example, several Gaston commissioners said the bank offers the program nationwide, but in fact Bank of America limits it to 51 banking centers in Los Angeles County, Weinberger said.

“This is not targeted toward illegal immigrants,” Weinberger said.

“It’s unfortunate that any decision would be made without a clear understanding of all the facts,” she added.

Commissioners have taken a stance against illegal immigration before. In November, a 5-1 majority voted in support of a resolution to limit the county’s spending on discretionary services going to illegal immigrants.

“We’ve already made a statement,” said Keigher, “and we’re standing on a principle.”

Commissioner Jack Brown pulled the item from the commissioners’ consent agenda, he said, because of the bank’s program in California.

A majority of commissioners spoke in favor of passing on Bank of America’s offer because of the program.

“We’re not supporting a system that supports illegal immigrants,” Commissioner John Torbett said after the meeting.

Commissioners asked county staff Thursday to investigate other banks to make sure they don’t have a program similar to Bank of America’s pilot program. Commissioners could choose a bank at their April 26 meeting.

The issue put the county finance department in uncharted territory, Bradley said.

“I will do whatever research they ask me to do,” he said afterward. “How successful I am I do not know yet.”

You can reach Kevin Ellis at (704) 869-1823.

Illegal Aliens Apprehended Carrying Bank of America Credit Cards!

By Sarah Cassey
The Express-Times
April 4, 2007

EASTON | Two of the nine suspected illegal immigrants detained Monday when they arrived for work at Hotel Bethlehem had criminal records, District Attorney John Morganelli said Tuesday.

Morganelli said Flor Rocha, of Falls Church, Va., was wanted in California for a dangerous drugs charge, but officials wouldn't extradite him back to California. Juan Carlos Hinjosa, of Springfield, Va., was wanted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials after he was arrested in February 2005.

The illegal immigrants -- seven from Bolivia, one from El Salvador and one from Guatemala -- were working for a subcontractor putting up drywall at the hotel. Morganelli received a complaint that led to the investigation and apprehension of the nine men.

Morganelli said the subcontractor was a Virginia-based company which claims the men were individual contractors.

"We know that's just a way to avoid worker's compensation," Morganelli said. He added the title of individual contractor gives the company plausible deniability in immigration cases.

Eight of the men lived in Virginia and one lived in Maryland. Morganelli said none would face local charges. The men were turned over to immigration officials and taken into federal custody.

Morganelli said two of the men were able to get Bank of America credit cards under a new program where the bank does not require social security numbers or a credit history to open an account.

The cards listed the men's names with additional last names.

"Obviously they're not doing a good job identifying their customers," Morganelli said.

Morganelli said he was also disappointed with response from ICE officials.

When county detectives asked for ICE's help, immigration officials asked detectives why they weren't apprehending gang members or drug dealers, Morganelli said.

"I'm very annoyed by this," Morganelli said. "Our office does not need to be questioned we expect (ICE) to do their job."

A recent government report found ICE has lost track of 623,000 fugitive aliens, Morganelli said.

Morganelli said this wasn't the first time his office faced disrespect from customs enforcement. Morganelli said he has lodged a complaint with Congressman Charlie Dent and planned to speak with U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan.

Ernestine Fobbs, an ICE spokeswoman, said the agency responded when Morganelli asked for assistance and all nine men are going through the removal process.

"This is something we do on a daily basis across the nation," Fobbs said.

Fobbs said Morganelli could contact the Law Enforcement Support Center if he had any issues with ICE.

When county detectives asked for ICE's help, immigration officials asked detectives why they weren't apprehending gang members or drug dealers, Morganelli said.

"I'm very annoyed by this," Morganelli said. "Our office does not need to be questioned we expect (ICE) to do their job."

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Supporters of the Bank of America Boycott:
April 4, 2007

We are pleased to announce that we now offer a certification process for banks. Several banks have contacted us to either take issue with our reports that they accepted worthless matricula cards or to change their policies.

We are glad to see banks that more banks want to stand with Americans on this issue now that we are exposing their illegal alien supporting practices.

You can help with this process by circulating this information to your local banks. We plan to contact our bank lists with this information later this week.

Any Bank that wishes to officially change their status or to certify that their official policy is to not accept illegal alien Matricula cards, they can visit this link on the site and follow the instructions.

Bank Certification

We have mounted this link at the very top of our boycott website at We ask that all of our supporters read and understand our certification process and do what you can with the banks you have contact with.

We will continue to work to expand and improve the list of good and bad banks kept on our site at this link...

Good and Bad Banks Lists

Let's all work together to get your local banks on the Good Bank list!

We are continuing to accept and publish your testimonials on the site. Please take the time to write us and to read the comments of other boycott supporters.

You will receive more information soon about our efforts on the legislation in DC.

Kind Regards,

William Gheen
Director, National Illegal Immigration Boycott Coalition
President, Americans for Legal Immigration PAC

$97 million payout for banking CEO

Published: Mar 20, 2007 01:45 PM
Modified: Mar 20, 2007 01:45 PM

The Charlotte Observer
By RICK ROTHACKER The Charlotte Observer

Bank of America Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Ken Lewis saw his total compensation skyrocket to $97 million in 2006, spurred by a previously announced plan to cash in stock options.

Lewis made $19.9 million from his salary, stock award, non-stock bonus and perks, a slight increase from 2005. But he also reaped $77 million from exercising accumulated stock options, according to the bank's annual proxy statement filed Monday.

The big payday comes as investors and lawmakers have increasing concerns about executive pay packages that are roaring past the wages of the average worker. For Lewis, who took over as CEO in 2001, it was his biggest pay check since taking home $38 million in 2003, which included $20.3 million in option gains.

It's also likely the biggest annual pay package for an executive at a Carolinas-based company.

Compensation expert Kevin Murphy said it's not surprising to see such big option gains for an executive who has tallied numerous stock option grants over the years. "It's a reflection that he was granted a lot of options and the stock has done very well," said Murphy, a professor of finance at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business.

The Observer counts salary, non-stock bonus, stock awards, perks and exercised options toward total pay. Under new Securities and Exchange Commission guidelines, companies are disclosing much more information about executive pay, although it's made it more difficult to make comparisons to previous years.

Options are a right to buy a company's stock at a certain price over a period of usually 10 years. Many companies, including Bank of America, are increasingly moving away from options, instead giving larger outright grants of stock that vest over a period of years. The theory is that this makes managers act more like shareholders, instead of looking for big gains as options come due.

Under Lewis in 2006, the Charlotte bank posted a record $21.1 billion in profits and briefly eclipsed Citigroup Inc. as the world's biggest bank by market value. In its acquisition of credit card issuer MBNA Corp., the bank beat cost-cutting projections, which has included plans to eliminate about 6,000 jobs.

For the year, the bank's shares posted a total return of 20.68 percent, besting the 17.02 percent return of the Philadelphia KBW Bank Index. The shares closed Monday at $50.37, up 75 cents.

In the proxy, the compensation committee of the board said it believes its executive pay "reasonable and appropriate in amount" and "directly correlated to our performance." The bank compares his pay to other big banks and other large global corporations.

The $19.9 million Lewis made last year comprises $1.5 million in salary, $11.7 million in stock awards, $6.5 million in non-stock bonus and $219,969 in perks.

The $11.7 million stock award, under SEC guidelines, represented how much the company counted as an expense during 2006, meaning the award actually was for 2005 performance and prior years. The company awarded Lewis about $11.1 million in stock in February for his 2006 performance.

Bank of America said in August that Lewis planned to exercise 4.08 million options to buy the company's stock over a period of five months. These shares were awarded over a number of previous years.

While Lewis exercised the options, he did not sell all the shares. The bank has said Lewis would cash in enough shares to pay for the initial cost of buying the stock and associated taxes but that he would keep the rest of the shares, a sign of faith in the company's future performance.

In 2006, Lewis also received additional options to buy company stock valued at about $5 million. The Observer doesn't count those toward total pay because their value will not be realized until the future.

Bank of America Corp. rival Wachovia Corp. paid its Chairman and CEO Ken Thompson $16.4 million for 2006, according to its proxy released earlier this month. Thompson, whose bank also produced record profits last year, had stock option gains of about $833,000.

Bank of America's proxy also notified shareholders of the bank's April 25 annual meeting. Stockholders can vote on a number of initiatives, including a proposal to split the titles of chairman and CEO held by Lewis.

2006 Compensation

Here's how Bank of America's other top executives fared: AL DE MOLINAformer chief financial officer, $10.6 million

GENE TAYLOR, corporate/investment bank, $11.9 million

AMY WOODS BRINKLEY, risk, $11.3 million

BARBARA DESOER, technology and service, $8.4 million

LIAM MCGEE, consumer and small business, $10.3 million

BRIAN MOYNIHAN, wealth and investment management, $10 million

NOTE: The Observer counts salary, bonus, stock awards, perks and option gains.

Big Pay Days

N.C. leader joins push to halt BofA program
Tampa Bay Business Journal - 9:04 AM EDT Monday, March 19, 2007

Tampa Bay's second largest bank has gained a hometown foe to plans that could lead it to do business with illegal aliens.

U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick is joining the fight to shut down Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America Corp.'s program to give credit cards to customers without Social Security numbers -- in more ways than one.

The seven-term Charlotte congresswoman is co-sponsoring legislation that would kill the controversial credit-card offer and she also is pulling her banking business from BofA (NYSE: BAC), one of her biggest political donors.

"I have been with them for a long time, but this was just the straw that breaks the camel's back in my mind," said Myrick, who said she is in the process of moving her accounts to Wachovia Corp. because the BofA program launched in Los Angeles is likely to be rolled out nationally. "If I believe something, I'm going to stand by my principles. I'm not going to be a hypocrite and have my banking there and feel the way I do."

The bank switch has Tampa Bay applications, where, like in Charlotte, the two banks are major rivals.

As of June 30, the most recent date for which information is available, BofA had 172 offices, $15.3 billion in deposits and a 22.68 percent market share in Tampa Bay, putting it ahead of Wachovia (NYSE: WB), with 187 offices, $11.4 billion in deposits and an 16.87 percent market share, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The bill Myrick is backing would limit the forms of identification banks can accept from customers. It would directly affect the BofA effort, which has received criticism because it offers credit cards to customers without Social Security numbers, a group that can include illegal immigrants.

BofA Chief Executive Officer Ken Lewis has noted the bank is operating within the law, and he said BofA does not want to discriminate against customers who are eligible for its services. While he has conceded illegal immigrants could qualify for the program, he has said more than 80 percent of the participants in the program have Social Security numbers.

A bank spokeswoman declined to comment.

Myrick is co-sponsoring a bill introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, earlier this month. The Photo Identification Security Act would place restrictions on the forms of identification banks can accept before opening an account for a customer -- only Social Security cards, passports or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services photo ID cards would be allowed.

Rep. Mel Watt, who serves on the House Financial Services Committee and represents North Carolina's 12th District, said it's unreasonable to ask financial institutions to check the immigration status of its customers. While he calls illegal immigration an "emotional issue," he said he hasn't received much feedback from constituents regarding the BofA program.

"It's not an issue that I think is high on a lot of people's radar screens," he said.

Under the Patriot Act, banks are allowed to open accounts for customers who don't have Social Security numbers but who provide alternate forms of identification, such as an individual taxpayer identification number or a matricula consular, an ID card provided by the Mexican consulate to its citizens.

In late 2005, Myrick sponsored the Transportation Revenue Ultimatum Enforcement ID Act, a bill that would have prevented states from accepting individual taxpayer identification numbers as proof of identification from individuals applying for a driver's license.

The controversial Real ID Act was passed into law that same year, and it aims to tighten standards around driver's licenses. But earlier this month, the White House pushed its implementation back until 2009.

"My concern is the same it's been from day one -- we need to know who's in this country and have positive identification of people," Myrick said, adding the Blackburn bill is "another step in that direction."

BofA and Lewis were contributors to Myrick's campaign during the 2006 election cycle. Myrick, who represents North Carolina's Ninth District, received $10,000 from two of the bank's political action committees, as well as $4,900 from Lewis personally, according to Federal Election Commission data.

That $14,900 made BofA the second-largest contributor to the Myrick campaign during the 2006 election cycle, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group that tracks money in politics. Wachovia -- its political action committees and employees -- gave $19,800 to Myrick's campaign and was her largest contributor.

Myrick said she notified BofA in February that she planned to speak out against the bank's pilot program.

"They just said that they understood that I had to do what I had to do," she said. "I don't make my decisions based on who's going to support me or who's going to give me money or anything like that. I make my decisions on what I believe and on what the people in my district believe and what I think is right."

Although BofA has received some backlash, analysts have called the pilot program innovative and say it could help the bank gain share in the fast-growing Hispanic market in the United States. In an opinion column in The Wall Street Journal, Lewis wrote that the pilot program was not aimed at illegal immigrants and will continue despite the objections of some customers.

Before BofA launched its program, Citigroup (NYSE: C) had been offering credit cards to customers without Social Security numbers and Wells Fargo & Co. NYSE: WFC) has said it is exploring the idea. Wachovia has said it has no such plans.

"I think it's a very smart move by them," Myrick said of her new bank.

Bank of America boycott hits home
Colin Guy - Staff Writer
Midland Reporter-Telegram

Bank of America continues to come under fire following its implementation last month of a pilot program critics say allows illegal aliens to obtain credit cards, a policy that has led at least one local business to sever its ties with the financial institution.

Kenneth W. Davis, owner of Great Western Drilling Company, told the Reporter-Telegram in a phone conversation from his Fort Worth office his company, which maintains offices in Midland and seven other cities, no longer will do business with Bank of America.

Davis' objection is based on a pilot program the company began in Los Angeles County, Calif. last month that permits customers who have had a checking account in good standing for three months to receive a credit card with a tax identification number in lieu of a Social Security number and a Matricula Consular card, which are issued by Mexican consuls, rather than a driver's license or other form of identification issued by the United States government.

"I suppose in a limited sense, the thing that concerned me was it's one more step in a series of things going on in the country that makes it easier for people here illegally to conduct business like an ordinary American citizen does," Davis said.

Davis indicated Bank of America processed millions of dollars each month in payables and receivables, business he now plans to take to one of the company's largest competitors.

Additionally, he said the charitable foundation he operates, which issues around $500,000 in grants each year, no longer will support organizations that conduct business with Bank of America.

Midland resident Kay Crawford said she, too, is pulling her accounts from Bank of America.

"I've been with them for close to a decade, but I strongly disagree with offering credit cards to illegal immigrants in this day and time of terrorism," Crawford told the Reporter-Telegram.

William Gheen, president of the Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee and director of a boycott against Bank of America, told the Reporter-Telegram he has received e-mails from numerous people opposed to the bank's pilot program who have closed small bank accounts at Bank of America consisting of a few thousand dollars, as well as from several medium-sized companies. The bank stands to lose a minimum of "tens of millions of dollars," he said.

Gheen said he believes the program is intended to specifically target illegal aliens, because Mexican nationals who are in the United States legally have forms of identification other than Matricula Consular cards to verify their identity, such as passport numbers or information from green cards.

"Any bank accepting Matricula Consular cards is targeting illegal aliens," he said.

Posted on Thu, Mar. 15, 2007

Bank of America fined for misusing research

Bank of America Corp. was fined $26 million by regulators, ending a six-year investigation into the company's misuse of its own analysts' research.

The bank let its salesmen and traders find out about forthcoming reports and tried to profit by trading before they were published, the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement Wednesday. The bank's analysts also issued false research, hyping companies to win banking business, the SEC said.

"We are determined to plug the improper leak of information on Wall Street," Linda Thomsen, the director of enforcement at the Washington-based SEC, said in the statement.

The bank "neither admits nor denies the factual allegations of the order," Bank of America spokeswoman Shirley Norton said Wednesday in a statement. "We believe it is in the best interest of the corporation and our shareholders to settle this matter at this time."

The case has already cost Bank of America $10 million. The SEC levied the fine in 2004, after accusing the bank of withholding documents and lying to investigators during the probe.

Bank of America to pay $26m in SEC settlement
Updated: 3:10 a.m. ET March 15, 2007

Bank of America Wednesday agreed to pay $26m to settle US Securities and Exchange Commission char­ges that it issued false equity research and allowed its traders access to research reports before they were released to customers, Reuters reports from Washington.

The penalty includes $16m of civil fines and $10m of disgorgement.

The second-largest US bank also agreed to hire a consultant to review its internal controls and stop further leaks of research reports. "We are determined to plug an improper leak of information on Wall Street," said Linda Thomson, director of the SEC's enforcement division, in a statement Wednesday.

Bank of America did not immediately return a call seeking comment. The bank, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, did not admit wrongdoing.

According to the SEC, Banc of America Securities LLC from January 1999 to December 2001 failed to detect and prevent employees' misuse of forthcoming research reports.

In at least two cases, traders took positions in securities before releasing the research to clients.

The agency also said Bank of America failed to address conflicts of interest that compromised analysts' independence.

It said this led to false and misleading research on Intel Corp, E-Stamp Corp and TelCom Semiconductor.

Mexican banks tougher than U.S. on Mexicans
Mar 14, 2007

Activists working to secure U.S. borders and bring illegal immigration under control say Mexican banks are tougher on Mexicans than U.S. institutions are, refusing to accept as valid IDs those matricula consular cards Mexico issues.

As WND has reported, dozens of major United States banking institutions led by Bank of America are implementing a nationwide amnesty program for illegals by accepting the cards issued by consulates and described by critics as a "laminated piece of paper."

But officials with Americans for Legal Immigration say they've documented refusals by several large Mexican banking corporations to accept the same documentation.

Topics:  Illegal immigration, Mexican banks, Matricula consular cards, Bank of America, consulates, video, William Gheen, ALIPAC, boycott, banks, Wells Fargo, Citibank, amnesty plan, U.S. sovereignty, Washington DC, law enforcement, driver's license, aiding and abetting, U.S. Treasury Department

The group recorded several requests to banking companies in Mexico, including Banorte, Banamex and HSBC.

The video, which was recorded in Spanish but has subtitles in English, reveals the following conversation in different versions for each bank:

    Bank: Good morning.
    Caller: This is the situation. I am living in the United States, but I don't have documents. I am not living here legally. I would like to live in Tijuana. I have the consular card. Can I open an account with this type of ID.

    Bank: No. You need a Mexican passport or federal ID.

    Caller: So the matricula is not considered?

    Bank: By itself. No.

"It is very revealing that Mexican banks have enough sense to refuse these cards but American banks don't," said ALIPAC's William Gheen. "We applaud this video, which shows us proof that Mexican banks are refusing to accept matricula cards issued by the Mexican government to illegals in our country.

"We hope many American banks will take note and stop accepting the matriculas," said Gheen, who encourages people to visit the BankofAmericaBoycott site and join in the boycott.

That boycott is being supported by more than 100 organizations fighting illegal immigration, said Gheen, whose ALIPAC is one of the largest national organizations waging that battle.

"Americans need to fight back against this hypocrisy and rein these big banks in," Gheen said. "Only illegal aliens need a matricula card for banking, therefore any bank accepting that card is doing business with illegals."

The boycott site also lists about 500 banking companies, and tells whether they do or do not accept the matricula cards. Gheen's group said the list "is intended as a suggestion for those moving their money out of Bank of America and other illegal alien abetting banks like Wells Fargo and Citibank."

WND had reported that the amnesty plan outlined by the Center for Immigration Studies four years ago is gaining notoriety only now because of the Mexican government's specific goal of flying under the radar by working with local and area jurisdictions, instead of national leaders.

The report, written by CIS Fellow Marti Dinerstein, said Mexico's approach is a "direct challenge to U.S. sovereignty."

Her report documents Mexico's campaign to institutionalize the card to provide "quasi-legal" status for illegals in the U.S "without waiting for action from Washington." She said in addition to banking institutions, local law enforcement agencies also have been lobbied by Mexico and hundreds now have begun accepting the card as official for the purpose of obtaining a driver's license.

Once that is obtained, the consular card can be thrown away, because the rest of the official documentation in the U.S. hinges on that license, the report said.

Worse yet, the acceptance of Mexico's card "sets a precedent, making it almost impossible to reject similar cards presented by illegal aliens from other countries, including those which have sent terrorists to the United States in the past," the report said.

Gheen said the problem is that any program that helps illegal aliens in their efforts to live in the U.S. is illegal itself, under an "aiding and abetting" ban.

"At first blush it seems almost impossible to believe that some of the largest and most prestigious banks in the country are knowingly offering accounts to Mexican illegal aliens," the CIS report said. "The most important reason is that neither banking regulators nor the U.S. Treasury Department have objected to opening banking accounts for Mexican illegals who use the matricula as their identification. In fact, a good case can be made that regulators and the Treasury Department have tacitly encouraged banks to do so."

Britney Sheehan, a spokeswoman for Bank of America, disputed the allegation the financial institution is targeting illegal immigrants. She said the pilot program is intended to assist existing customers in developing a credit history by providing them with a secured credit card with a very low spending limit. She added the program is in compliance with the nation's laws, including the USA PATRIOT Act.

Section 326 of the law, which relates to regulations for the identification and verification of account holders at financial institutions, outlines a set of minimum requirements for banks. The law requires financial institutions to verify the identity of any person seeking an account "to the extent reasonable and practicable" and requires the bank to maintain records of "information used to verify a person's identity, including name, address and other identifying information." Additionally, banks must compare the name of the applicant to lists of known or suspected terrorists.

The law also requires the U.S. Treasury Department, in consultation with the appropriate federal regulators, to study issues such as how to handle foreign nationals who wish to open an account and provide suggestions to Congress.

Recommendations issued by the Treasury Department would require financial institutions to accept one or more of the following:

"A U.S. taxpayer identification number; a passport number and country of issuance; an alien identification card number; or the number and country of issuance of any other government-issued document evidencing nationality or residence and bearing a photograph or similar safeguard."

This regulation would include Matricula Consular cards issued by Mexican consuls, a document that has some concerned is not reliable enough.

Gheen said the leaders of his organization have been able to obtain several forged Matricula Consular cards and indicated, ironically, members of his organization have contacted major banks in Mexico and found they would not even accept the documents for verification purposes.

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) has expressed concern forged Matricula Consular cards could be used by terrorists to open bank accounts and has urged Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to look into the program, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun.
Hector Raul Acosta, who heads the Mexican consulate in Presidio, told the Reporter-Telegram he is aware of no instances of fabrication of Matricula Consular cards occurring since the security features of the documents were upgraded about five years ago. He said the form of identification is one of the most trustworthy worldwide and emphasized this was not his personal opinion, but that of recognized security experts.

March 14, 2007
Muy Caliente: Immigration Debate Heats Up Decry Bank, Road Proposals

By Kitty Merrill

Immigration continued to dominate public discussion this week, with a contentious hearing before the county legislature in Hauppauge, and a protest in East Hampton over the weekend.

There were more signs than demonstrators to carry them on Newtown Lane Saturday morning. About 12 protestors, more than half of them from out of town, rallied in front of the Bank of America, offering opposition to the institution's pilot program providing credit cards to presumably undocumented immigrants. In the wake of news of the program – which is underway in Los Angeles and expected to go nationwide this year – that allows customers to get a credit card without providing a Social Security card, North Fork Legislator Ed Romaine proposed pulling county funds from BoA. His bill is up for discussion in committee this week.

Carrying placards with sayings such as "Boycott Bank of Amexico" and "Bank of Treason," demonstrators stood in front of the bank. "It's national boycott Bank of America week," Thomas Wedell of East Moriches, founder of the Anti Illegal Immigration Association said. "We're here to say that they are breaking moral law and US law and it's got to stop."

"For the greed of a few, the masses will lose," Wedell predicted. "This is definitely not the first protest and it will not be the last. I just hope America wakes up and realizes what's going on here." He said his group has made the rounds of BoA branches on Long Island in recent weeks.

The demonstration progressed with scant reaction from passing motorists or pedestrians. One man on the street confronted sign carriers, asking why they weren't out looking for work. Police on the scene kept watch, and the pedestrian eventually walked off.

A passing motorist called out from a pickup truck, asking protestors if they wanted work. "I need three guys and I can't get any Americans," he said, stopping by to pass out his card later, "They don't stay any longer than three weeks. They say the work is too hard."

After about 30 minutes, the rally moved from Newtown Lane to the Village Green. There, rallyers shifted focus, condemning East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill McGintee for failing to solve the illegal housing issue. Rick King, of Springs, complained of rampant cases of overstuffed houses.

Earlier in the week, vociferous protest came from the other side of the issue. On March 6 in Hauppauge, the county legislature held a public hearing on a measure that, if adopted, would prohibit gathering along county roads for the purpose of seeking work. Legislators Joe Caracappa and Jack Eddington, whose districts include areas like Farmingville, where day laborers, sometimes numbering as many as 100, gather looking for work, causing what they say are severe traffic safety problems. At one site in his district, Eddington said rear end collisions brought about by contractors stopping short to pick up drivers tallied 400 in just one year. Area residents complain that whenever they stop their cars, labors swarm around the vehicles, thinking they might find work.

Over the course of almost three hours of testimony, opponents to the bill, most of them representing Latino advocacy groups, dominated public input, with scathing condemnations of the proposal as "mean-spirited" and more about scapegoating Latinos than ensuring public safety.

Rev. Allen Ramirez, an outspoken critic of County Executive Steve levy's immigration-related initiatives asked legislators, "Do you really want to be Levycrats?" He said the CE and his "series of anti-immigrant proposals" have become such an annoyance to the Latino community, they have taken to referring to him as "El Chiquitito Levy," which translates to "teeny weenie Levy."

Udi Offer, legislative counsel for the New York Civil Liberties Union opined the proposal is unconstitutional as it infringes on First Amendment rights. He said the bill has been dubbed an attempt to criminalize "Standing While Latino." Additionally, he noted that New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law already contains provisions geared toward preventing the type of traffic problems lawmakers cite as the basis for the proposal.

Some speakers predicted that prohibiting people from loitering along county roads would merely shift them to town or state roads. Legislator Elie Mystal (D., Amityville) reminded that a more permanent solution, like a work center, had been proposed and rejected by county lawmakers in the past.

Mystal, who is known for verbal shots from the hip, drew ire from GOP counterparts when he said if he had to confront hundreds of day laborers in his driveway each morning, "I would load up my shotgun and start shooting." The lawmaker later apologized for making a tasteless comment.

Latino advocates were not the only ones who expressed opposition to the bill. Roger Clayman of the Long Island Federation of Labor worried the law as written could also impede the ability of workers to demonstrate.

The bill will be discussed during committee this week. At the earliest, the measure could come before the entire legislature for a vote during its session next Tuesday.

WEBCommentary Contributor
Author: Tom Barrett
Bio: Tom Barrett
Date: March 13, 2007

Bank of America Boycott

Over 100 non-racist organizations have joined forces to organize a boycott of Bank of America. What has the Bank done to earn the ire of so many patriots? Their branches regularly open bank accounts, issue credit cards and give mortgages to people they know to be illegal aliens. This is against federal law, and – just as important – is against the national interest of the United States. They deserve to be boycotted.

I am sorry that I need to qualify my statement regarding the one hundred organizations which support the boycott by saying they are non-racist. However, it is necessary, because the liberal media has so twisted the facts concerning illegal immigration that anyone who speaks out against illegal immigration is automatically labeled a “racist.” In fact, they don’t even want us to use the phrase “illegal alien”. They prefer the more politically correct “undocumented migrant”.

And what does race have to do with it, anyway? True, many of the illegals are Mexicans. And Guatemala’s president recently admitted that about 10% of his countrymen now live in the United States illegally. But many of the criminals that cross our border from Mexico are not Hispanic. They range all the way from Muslim terrorists who find Mexico an easy way to get into the US to criminals from the former Soviet republics looking for an easy way to get rich.

Illegal immigration is destroying our country. More Americans were killed last year in this country by illegal aliens than were killed in Iraq by terrorists there. Our jails and prisons are filled to capacity with violent illegals, and the cost of keeping them jailed is staggering. Our welfare and medical systems are stretched to the breaking point by the billions they are forced to spend on illegal aliens.

So why is Bank of America supporting illegal immigration? I am sure they would say that they are not interested in the politics of the matter, that they are only interested in making a profit. The same could be said by companies that sell weapons to our nation’s enemies.

The financial instruments that Bank of America provides to illegals are, in a very real sense, weapons that are being used against our country in the war against illegal immigration. Giving illegals bank accounts, mortgages and credit cards allows them to blend in and avoid detection. It also makes it easier for them to scam our hospitals and welfare systems.

Bank of America is not the only major bank giving aid and comfort to criminal illegal aliens. There are others, but Bank of America is the worst offender, and thus the first to be boycotted. (If you would like to know if your bank is one of the good guys or one of the bad guys, see the LINK below: “List of Good and Bad Banks.”)

To get around Patriot Act provisions which require banks to carefully examine the identification provided by customers, Bank of America is illegally accepting Matricula cards issued by the Mexican consulate. Mexico issues these cards to Mexican citizens, knowing that they will be used only in the United States. In fact, the only purpose for these cards is to allow illegal immigrants to scam the US system.

Proof of this is the fact that Mexican banks will not allow the use of these cards to open a Mexican bank account or get a Mexican credit card! That’s right. Click on the LINK below (“Video Proves that Mexican Banks Will Not Accept Matricula Card”). You will see the Mexican banks refusing to accept the Matricula card. Why then does Bank of America accept it as proof of ID? When it comes to US Citizens, Bank of America requires proper ID before opening any account. Sort of a strange double standard, wouldn’t you say?

I hope that everyone who reads this will sign the Bank of America Boycott Petition (see first LINK below). I hope you will also pass the word along to everyone you know who still cares about America.

I believe America should continue its tradition of allowing all types of people to take part in the American dream. I do not believe we should allow anyone to push their way to the front of the line. The first act of an immigrant to America should NOT be the breaking of federal immigration laws.

Because of Bank of America and others who choose to break the laws of this nation, we now have more people illegally crossing into the United States than people who immigrate legally. If this trend is not broken, we will have to halt legal immigration, because the illegals will have used up all the resources dedicated to legal immigration.

Unless they change their ways, we should force Bank of America to change its name. How about Bank of Venezuela? At least Venezuela is honest about its desire to destroy the United States. Bank of America, on the other hand, claims to be a proud part of the American dream, while working from within to destroy our economy.

Tom Barrett
Publisher, Editor, Conservative Truth

Mexican banks refuse to accept Mexican issued Matricula cards accepted by some US Banks!

March 12, 2007



William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC)
(866) 329-3999 or

An American activist released a video showing that many Mexican banks refuse to accept the Matricula cards that are issued by the Mexican government to illegal aliens inside the US and accepted by many banks including Bank of America.

"It is very revealing that Mexican banks have enough sense to refuse these cards but American banks don't," said William Gheen of ALIPAC. "We applaud this video which shows us proof that Mexican banks are refusing to accept Matricula cards issued by the Mexican government to illegals in our country. We hope many American banks will take note and stop accepting the Matriculas."

The video is now mounted at the top of the Bank of America boycott website located at This historic boycott is entering it's fourth week and is supported by over 100 organizations fighting against illegal immigration. The video is also available at

"Americans need to fight back against this hypocrisy and reign these big banks in," says William Gheen. "Only illegal aliens need a Matricula card for banking, therefore any bank accepting that card is doing business with illegals."

A growing list is now available at the boycott website that shows 500 banks that do and do not accept the Matricula cards. The list is intended as a suggestion for those moving their money out of Bank of America and other illegal alien abetting banks like Wells Fargo and Citibank.

Boycott supporters are being asked to distribute this video and to make comments at...

Americans for Legal Immigration is one of the largest national organizations fighting illegal immigration. ALIPAC is a multi-ethnic, multi-party organization that enjoys the support of many LEGAL immigrants. Supporters are organized in all 50 states. For more information, please visit and


Paid for by Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC)
Post Office Box 30966, Raleigh, NC 27622-0966
Tel: (919) 787-6009 Toll Free: (866) 329-3999
FEC ID: C00405878

Credit ID bill hits raw nerve

Blackburn plan to ban credit cards for illegals is noted across nation

By Bartholomew Sullivan
March 8, 2007

-- The offices of U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., have been flooded with calls after the Drudge Report circulated a story from The Commercial Appeal about her plan to prevent illegal immigrants from applying for credit cards.

Blackburn introduced the Photo Identification Security Act on Monday to prevent immigrants from using Mexican identity cards, called matricula consulars, as part of their identification for opening bank accounts. Blackburn cited the danger to financial institutions as a concern.

Banks can legally use a variety of forms of identification to open bank accounts but can't use the matricula consular alone for that purpose.

The Bank of America, whose pilot program in Los Angeles County has come under the fiercest attacks by Blackburn and her allies, says it uses only forms of identification authorized by the U.S.A. Patriot Act.

The Commercial Appeal received dozens of e-mail and phone messages from across the country Wednesday about Blackburn's proposed bill, and Matthew Lambert, a Blackburn spokesman, said the office "has been flooded with calls from constituents all across the district and all across the state."

Said Roland East, 51, a caller from Wayne, Pa.: "They shouldn't even have bank accounts. They shouldn't have the money to put in bank accounts because they shouldn't be hired unless they're here legally."

John Keeley, director of communications for the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonpartisan Washington think tank, said Blackburn clearly has tapped a raw nerve in the body politic.

"There's been a staying power of grass-roots and majority interests and outrage about just how bad things have gotten with the illegal immigration crisis," said Keeley. "The citizenry is expecting action, and the Tennessee congressman is acknowledging that."

Tennessee Bankers Association general counsel Tim Amos said the banks will comply with any new regulations that go beyond their current identification guidelines aimed at protecting financial institutions and preventing money laundering.

However, he said he would be concerned about whether the new identification requirements would affect money-transfer programs endorsed by the Federal Reserve that might drive that business to unregulated systems.

Memphis immigration lawyer Greg Siskind suggested the bill only "dances around" the larger issue of how to handle 10 million to 20 million illegal immigrants, including many who are well assimilated into the country.

Siskind said politicians such as Blackburn are trying to isolate illegal immigrants by taking away "right after right ... to make life as miserable as we can for them," but won't call for deportation because they know it would bankrupt the country and tear families apart.

"It's just a lot easier to demagogue on these kinds of issues than to actually address the problem," he said.

Bank of America causes mass debate on new credit card testing

March 8, 2007

Bank of America causes mass debate on new credit card testingThe Bank of America must have known that when it announced that its new credit card may be tested on illegal immigrants, it would cause quite a debate. The obvious risks that it presents have sparked outrage and critics have even suggested a boycott.

It is thought that there are around 12 million illegal immigrants within America and many are also thought to be terrorists and criminals. So by offering credit cards to these people, it is possible that it could assist them in their criminal activities. So just why is the Bank of America offering to fund these illegal immigrants?

Well it seems that whilst they are certainly not allowed to employ them, all banks are still allowed to sign illegal immigrants up as customers. There seems to be no restrictions regarding illegal immigrants and banks and they see it as purely a money making opportunity.

The new scheme that the Bank of America set up late last year allowed customers to sign up for a credit card without a social security number. This is why there could be illegal immigrants getting hold of the cards and the bank has had to admit that it is a possibility. However the bank thinks that so far no illegal immigrants have signed up for the credit cards and they claim that it is simply a way of helping out a portion of Americans. Not everybody has a driving license or a lot of money to spare and these new cards are designed to suit those people’s needs. They are particularly advertising these cards to the Latino community and it is thought that that is where the illegal immigrants also are.

Overall the decision to allow these cards possibly to illegal immigrants has outraged many people. It is also likely to shock a lot of other countries too. So just how popular will this pilot scheme be and will it give illegal immigrant’s access to the funds that they need to spark more terrorist attacks?

'Bank of America: To Credit or not to Credit?'

By Guest: Paul A. Ibbetson on Mar 07, 07

Recent revelations have brought to the forefront financial institutions, namely Bank of America Corp, among others, that have for some time now been implementing a banking policy which allows illegal aliens with no financial background nor the customary customer identification, such as a social security number, to attain checking accounts, and after a short probationary period, credit cards (NewsMax, Bank of America Offers, 2007). These banking policies have come under attack from illegal immigration opposition groups and there have been reports that legitimate Bank of America Corp customers may close their accounts as a sign of protest to what CNN’s Lou Dobbs called an “outrageous” credit card program (NewsMax, Bank of America Defends, 27, 2007). Border security advocate and potential presidential hopeful Tom Tancredo (R, Co) brings forth the most fundamental problem that irresponsible banking procedures create today. That is, potentially unrestricted money flow to a phantom population. Tancredo states, “After September 11th, we were told that money was the lifeblood of terrorists, and that we should do everything possible to block their access to financial resources,” (NewsMax, Bank of America Defends, 25, 2007). Tancredo’s statement is prudent as it touches a component of the larger problem that has brought forth the rise in opposition to the actions of Bank of America. It would appear that with a minimal amount of logical application one can reasonably conclude that due to the nature of the war on terror, of which a component is the reality of potential terrorist cells within the country, to fail to identify people within our borders to which U.S. financial institutions are actively giving credit, is of a great danger to the country and shows an overabundance of bad judgment. However, for those of us that endorse the capitalistic free market system, we must investigate further before placing final judgment on financial institutions that simply incorporate unpopular if not unwise business decisions.

William Gheen, director of the National Illegal Immigration Boycott Coalition would touch upon the question that most fundamentally addresses the issue of how Bank of America Corp, and its equivalents should be handled. While lamenting his anger over the actions of Bank of America, actions which have sparked his group to collect over 11,000 petition signatures condemning their actions, Gheen in exasperation brings the most salient question to bear by saying, “What Bank of America is doing is illegal, or should be” (NewsMax, Bank of America Defends, 6, 2007). It is Gheen’s question to the legality of Bank of America’s banking procedures that I wish to address today. Is what the Bank of America doing illegal or simply a business choice that many within the country disagree with? To answer this question one has to go no further than section 326 of the Patriot Act. Section 326 of the Patriot Act obligates the Secretary of the Treasury to create and maintain uniform standards for all financial institutions which include banks, credit unions, security dealers, etc. The goal of section 326 is to deter illegal funds being transferred to terrorist organizations as well as to serve as a deterrent to many white collar crimes. Checking Accounts, credit card applications and altering existing credit card accounts fall under section 326 of the Patriot Act. Institutions now give notice of section 326 of the Patriot Act on all documents that pertain to these transactions.

All institutions are required to verify the identity of all patrons opening accounts as well as insure the maintenance and up keep of all records. Additionally, institutions are required to maintain the identity of patrons to a level that will allow identifications of those who may appear on any provided list of terrorist suspects or members of terrorist organizations (EPIC, 2001). The most common collected information by institutions includes name, date of birth, address, social security number, and drivers license (Merrimack, 2007). If patrons do not have a social security card, additional government documents are required and the patrons are then subjected to a higher level of scrutiny. Failure to seek, collect, and maintain identifying information on all customers by financial institutions is a violation of section 326 of the Patriot Act. In some financial institutions the mandates of section 326 are coined as the “Know Your Customer Rules”. Is there any question as to whether Bank of America really knows the customers that it gives credit to? I think the answer is that they definitely do not. It would appear that the opposition to the practices of Bank of America stated by Tancredo, Dobbs, and Gheen are not only morally and logically supported, but also legally valid.

Bill would block credit cards for illegals

Blackburn seeks to close loophole in U.S. banking
By Bartholomew Sullivan
\ March 6, 2007

-- U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., introduced legislation Monday that would prevent illegal immigrants from receiving credit cards from American financial institutions. The Photo Identification Security Act would require banks to use what Blackburn calls "secure forms of identification" to obtain credit. In a statement put out by her office, she says that Bank of America "has come under fire in response to reports that it allows illegal immigrants access to credit cards without proper documentation."

Bank of America spokesmen maintain that they follow the letter of the law in permitting customers to use the forms of identification permissible under the U.S.A. Patriot Act. That includes matricula consular cards issued by the Mexican government. "The American people deserve to know that the integrity and security of our financial institutions will remain intact," Blackburn said in a statement Monday. "This bill closes a critical loophole that banking institutions have used to circumvent the letter of the law they have used to target illegal aliens as a new source of revenue. It says to banks and illegal immigrants alike, 'You can't get a Visa, without a visa.'"

Bank of America issues the secured, or collateralized, credit cards only after a customer has established a deposit account, and to get a deposit account, the company requires a Social Security number, proof of U.S. government federal taxpayer status, or other documents listed as identification by the Patriot Act.


1st Session

H. R. 1314

To provide that only certain forms of identification of individuals may be accepted by the Federal Government and by financial institutions.


March 5, 2007 Mrs. BLACKBURN (for herself, Mr. PRICE of Georgia, Mr. GARY G. MILLER of California, and Mr. ROYCE) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and in addition to the Committee on Financial Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


To provide that only certain forms of identification of individuals may be accepted by the Federal Government and by financial institutions.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Photo Identification Security Act' .


(a) Forms of Acceptable Identification - A Federal agency may not accept, for any official purpose, including for Federal benefits and for individual taxpayer identification numbers, any form of identification of an individual other than the following:


(A) A social security card accompanied by a photo identification card issued by the Federal Government or a State Government; or

(B) a driver's license or identification card issued by a State in the case of a State that is in compliance with title II of the REAL ID Act of 2005 (title II of division B of Public Law 109-13; 49 U.S.C. 30301 note).

(2) PASSPORT- A passport issued by the United States or a foreign government.

(3) USCIS PHOTO IDENTIFICATION CARD- A photo identification card issued by the Secretary of Homeland Security (acting through the Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).

(b) Effective Date- The requirements of subsection (a) shall take effect six months after the date of the enactment of this Act .


(a) In General- Section 5318(l) of title 31, United States Code (relating to identification and verification of accountholders) is amended by striking paragraph (6) and inserting the following new paragraph:

`(6) FORMS OF ACCEPTABLE IDENTIFICATION - A financial institution may not accept, for the purpose of verifying the identity of an individual seeking to open an account in accordance with this subsection, any form of identification of the individual other than the following:


`(i) A social security card accompanied by a photo identification card issued by the Federal Government or a State Government; or

`(ii) a driver's license or identification card issued by a State in the case of a State that is in compliance with title II of the REAL ID Act of 2005 (title II of division B of Public Law 109-13; 49 U.S.C. 30301 note).

`(B) PASSPORT- A passport issued by the United States or a foreign government.

`(C) USCIS PHOTO IDENTIFICATION CARD- A photo identification card issued by the Secretary of Homeland Security (acting through the Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services).'.

(b) Effective Date- The amendments made by subsection (a) shall take effect six months after the date of the enactment of this Act .

Bank of America Finds Itself in Immigration Debate
By IEVA M. AUGSTUMS Posted: Mar. 1, 2007
WRAL-TV News, Raleigh

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When Bank of America Corp. said it was testing a new credit card available to customers who may be illegal immigrants, the reaction was predictably harsh.

Outspoken critics of illegal immigration called for a boycott and said the bank could be supporting terrorists and drug traffickers. Some outraged customers closed accounts and sent back their cards, chopped into little pieces. The bank's chief executive, Ken Lewis, admitted that "finding oneself in the middle of a heated national debate is never pleasant."

But Bank of America isn't the first to offer such a card: Citigroup Inc. said it has done so for years, and Wells Fargo & Co. says it's thinking about it. The cards are merely the latest progression for an industry that has spent millions to attract customers in the country's growing Latino community - and among the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.

They also reflect a fact faced by every retail business in the United States. While they can't legally employ undocumented workers, there are few, if any, restrictions on welcoming them as customers.

"As a business owner, you sell to whomever comes into your store. You sell to whomever buys from you online. It's easy, normally," said Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington. "Just in some cases where specific identification is needed, like in financial services, it's more complicated."

But getting less so. Last month, Bank of America said it had started a pilot program in the Los Angeles area late last year that didn't require a Social Security number to sign up for a credit card. The Charlotte-based bank insists the card isn't specifically designed to attract illegal immigrants, and says that so far, it has not.

The bank hasn't decided if it will offer the card elsewhere, but it would likely be popular with a population that generally lacks access to something as common in most American wallets as the dollar bill and a driver's license.

"It's a no brainer. It's a very large market," said Jim Johnson, director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "The bank is just the latest example of a major corporation recognizing the impact of doing business with Hispanics."

In 2005, the nation's 6.6 million illegal immigrant families had an average annual income of $29,500 and accounted for nearly $200 billion in purchasing power, a figure that's only expected to grow, said Pew Hispanic Center demographer Jeff Passel.

"They are impacting the economy," Passel said. "The unauthorized are explicitly coming for an economic basis."

While credit card use among the nation's 42 million Hispanics is on the rise, a substantial number of Latino households don't have access to credit, according a survey conducted by the National Council of La Raza, which found that 80 percent of American households use credit cards compared with only 56 percent of Hispanic households.

For years, U.S. banks have made attracting immigrants a major focus of their business strategy, working to sell services that include everything from traditional checking accounts to wire transfers used to send money to relatives back home.

Customers don't typically need a Social Security number to open a standard banking account. Instead, they can identify themselves by using an ID card provided by the Mexican Consulate to its citizens, known as a matricula consular, or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) issued by the Internal Revenue Service.

At Bank of America, the pilot program in Los Angeles allows customers to use such forms of identification to also sign up for a credit card. The card is similar to secured cards offered to those with poor credit: it requires customers to have an account with the bank that's been in good standing for at least three months and comes with a reimbursable upfront fee of $99.

"This initiative lets customers build a solid credit history with a leading bank," Bank of America spokeswoman Betsy Weinberger said.

Still, Camarota said most Americans don't think businesses should go out of their way to cater to illegal immigrants. "Some say it's bad corporate citizenship," he said.

Critics of illegal immigration have said providing credit to illegal immigrants further embeds the population into American society. Many worry that without a Social Security number, the bank can't be sure the card's customers won't use the credit for criminal activity, such as terrorism or drug trafficking.

"We just see this as another step to put our country at risk so they can make a few extra dollars," said Rod Woodard, director of NC Listen, an immigration reform organization based in Cary, North Carolina.

The attention has rattled America's largest retail bank. Lewis responded to the controversy in a column in The Wall Street Journal, writing the bank is complying with the provisions of the USA Patriot Act, which set up the guidelines that allows the bank to accept official identification sources issued by foreign governments - including the matricula consular.

"And I observe no shortage of irony in the efforts of those whose first concern is national security, but who seek to undermine a regulatory structure that was designed in large part to thwart terrorism," Lewis wrote. He said only 16 percent of customers to sign up for the card so far lack a Social Security number.

"We believe we have an obligation to serve all those in our country who are legally eligible to receive services," Lewis wrote. "To do less would be discriminatory and unfair."

Bank of America just tip of iceberg
Posted: March 1, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Bob Unruh
© 2007

U.S. institutions legitimize illegals by taking Mexican documentation

Dozens of major United States banking institutions led by Bank of America are implementing a nationwide amnesty program for millions of illegal immigrants by accepting as valid identification Mexico's matricula consular cards, which are just a "laminated piece of paper," critics of the plan have charged.

The plan, which was outlined in a report by the Center for Immigration Studies four years ago, is gaining notoriety only now because of the Mexican government's specific goal of flying under the radar by working with local and area jurisdictions, instead of national leaders, according to the CIS report.

Headlines in the past few weeks on the issue have been dominated by plans by Bank of America to accept the consular cards to establish credit card accounts. Officials with Americans for Legal Immigration also have released a long list of American banking institutions that are moving down the same path.

"But Mexico's new approach has become a direct challenge to U.S. sovereignty – by aggressively lobbying state and local governments, Mexico is changing America's de facto immigration policy in lieu of congressional action," the report, written by CIS Fellow Marti Dinerstein, said. It's happening through the formal recognition of those matricula cards.

The circumstances at that time, shortly after 9/11, were that the U.S. Patriot Act was being implemented and as part of that, the banking industry was asked about its verification procedures, and how the transfer of terrorist funds could be limited.

The response was that since the U.S. had no absolutely secure ID, the banking industry would be unfairly burdened by having to require one, so the U.S. Treasury Department gave a "tacit" approval for such documents as consular cards, according to an expert in the field.

Treasury said in a report under the Act that, "the proposed regulations do not discourage bank acceptance of the 'matricula consular' identity card that is being issued by the Mexican government to immigrants."

Simultaneously, the report noted, the Mexican government was upset over the U.S. focus on national security and pullback from mass amnesty proposals after 9/11, and turned its "aggressive" grassroots lobbying on local institutions.

Marti Dinerstein, who wrote the CIS report, told WND that the Treasury Department at that time, while it didn't specifically allow the use of matricula consular cards, essentially told banking institutions they wouldn't be stopped but it would be at their own risk.

That, however, conflicts with the general federal ban on "aiding and abetting" illegal activities, including illegal immigration, she told WND. "My position is that banks should not be accepting matricula cards. They are insecure ID documents that facilitate and institutionalize illegal immigration."

Her report documented Mexico's campaign to institutionalize the card to provide "quasi-legal" status for illegals in the U.S "without waiting for action from Washington." She said in addition to banking institutions, local law enforcement also was lobbied by Mexico and hundreds of agencies have begun accepting the card as official for the purpose of obtaining a driver's license.

Once that is obtained, the consular card can be thrown away, because the rest of the official documentation in the U.S. hinges on that license, the report said. But like a building on an unstable foundation, there are huge problems because there aren't safeguards to prevent multiple matricula cards being given to the same person, and the holder's identity never is confirmed when it is issued.

Worse yet, the acceptance of Mexico's card "sets a precedent, making it almost impossible to reject similar cards presented by illegal aliens from other countries, including those which have sent terrorists to the United States in the past," the report said.

The National Illegal Immigration Boycott Coalition is suggesting people close their accounts with banks using the matricula, and sign an online petition opposing that precedent.

Organizer William Gheen, president of Raleigh-based ALIPAC,agreed with Dinerstein's assessment that the practice violates federal bans on helping illegal activities.

"Nobody is above the law, including Bank of America," he said.

Reps. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Tom Price, R-Ga., members of the House Financial Services Committee, already have suggested that hearings be held on the plan, because of concerns over promoting illegal immigration and identity theft.

But Bank of America spokeswoman Betsy Weinberger said the card was not "specifically developed or marketed for illegal immigrants," adding the initiative allows customers to build a credit history with a "leading bank."

Dinerstein said a large part of Mexico's interest in establishing the card is so that illegal immigrants have more secure and less costly ways of transferring the billions of dollars they earn in the United States to Mexico and into its economy.

Gheen told WND that his contention is that "What they're doing is either (a) against the law and this is another case of non-enforcement, which seems to be the reason for the illegal alien crisis, or (b) if we're wrong and banks have found a loophole, that loophole needs to be closed immediately."

"Aiding and abetting illegal aliens is a felony under federal law Section 8 USC 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv)(b)(iii). This law has a six year statute of limitations and companies currently violating these laws can be prosecuted up to six years in the future," according to Gheen's organization.

Gheen noted that the penalty for "aiding and abetting" illegal aliens is up to five years in prison, but if done for commercial profit, that increases to 10 years.

"Which is the reason I can't open up a cab stand in a border crossing zone where I would be aid illegals," he said.

He said the end result will be Americans being forced to accept illegal immigrants because business will say, "we've already banked them."

Gheen's coalition has assembled more than 100 anti-illegal immigration groups who in turn compiled the list of banks accepting the Mexican cards.

"We want consumers to know where they can take their money, when they take it out of illegal immigration supporting banks like B of A and Wells Fargo," Gheen said.

The CIS report said the Mexican government had been expecting in September 2001 to obtain its goal of exemption of visa limits and a "regularized" immigration status for Mexicans in the United States. Then 9/11 happened and the national effort was derailed, so it turned to local efforts.

Those promotions of the matricula have been successful, too. "In localities where it is accepted as valid identified, the matricula consular has reduced the chances that illegal Mexican aliens will be arrested and deported, given them entrée to mainstream banking services, provided access to city and state services – and in 13 states gained them exactly the same driver's licenses as those carried by American citizens," the CIS report said.

However, the report notes, "the matricula is just a laminated piece of paper. Its value derives from the fact that U.S. police departments, banks, local governments, and state motor vehicle bureaus voluntarily have agreed to accept it, no questions asked."

Calling the campaign "brilliant propaganda," Mexican officials at all levels have been lobbying mayors, police chiefs, bank officials, state legislators and others. "They speak at official meetings, court prominent community leaders, meet with the editorial boards of newspapers, and seize every opportunity given for media coverage."

Possession of the card also discourages local authorities from deporting illegal immigrants, in violation of the law, the report said.

"For the police to ignore federal immigration law is tantamount to subverting it. And that is exactly what has been happening since the Mexican government launched its full-court press to get local law enforcement officials to accept the matricula on [an equal] basis with U.S.-issued identification or valid passports," the report said.

"At first blush it seems almost impossible to believe that some of the largest and most prestigious banks in the country are knowingly offering accounts to Mexican illegal aliens," the report said. "The most important reason is that neither banking regulators nor the U.S. Treasury Department have objected to opening banking accounts for Mexican illegals who use the matricula as their identification. In fact, a good case can be made that regulators and the Treasury Department have tacitly encouraged banks to do so."

In fact, the Internal Revenue Service has even issued Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers to foreign nationals who were ineligible to get a Social Security card as a way to encourage compliance with U.S. tax laws.

"The irony is that Mexican banks do not hold the matricula in high regard as an identity document…," the report said.

"No one disputes that Mexico has a right to issue the matricula consular and maintain a registry of its citizens living in other nations. What is in dispute is the wisdom of American institutions and governmental entities accepting as official identification a foreign government’s document, the purpose of which is to make it easier for their nationals to reside in the United States illegally," the report said.

Bank of Illegals
Pittsburg-Tribune Review

By Dimitri Vassilaros

Wed. Feb. 28, 2007

Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis should rename his institution the Bank of Latin America. It's a crime that Mr. Lewis and his acolytes inside the Beltway act as if the United States is populated by fools. The audacity is world-class. Lewis says marketing credit cards to customers who don't have Social Security numbers -- essentially illegal aliens -- doesn't mean the bank deliberately markets to illegals. So, is Bank of America poised to roll out a program to attract new customers such as money launderers and those who bankroll terrorism?

The USA Patriot Act (passed after 9/11) allows financial institutions to accept Mexico's Matricula Consular card -- an ID issued by Mexican consulates -- as official identification. Lewis calls that "a key tool in our efforts to ensure that our financial systems are not used for illegal purposes."

But that card is so suspect that Mexico -- the country that issues it -- does not accept it as a valid form of voter identification. In fact, banks based in Mexico do not accept it as valid ID.

Some tool.

Bank of America this week bowed a new advertising campaign. The new slogan, a "Bank of Opportunity," certainly is more fitting than the old one -- "Higher Standards."

Petition Takes Issue With Bank Of America
Tuesday, Feb 27, 2007 - 10:38 PM

-- Bank of America recently announced a plan to allow people to open credit card accounts without Social Security numbers.

A local activist is leading a national coalition and says the program favors undocumented immigrants.

By not requiring a Social Security number to get the credit card, a Raleigh-based activist says one of the nation's largest banks is encouraging undocumented immigrants to apply.

But Bank of America says the practice is nothing new and it's not aimed at undocumented immigrants.

Bank of America is considered the largest commercial bank in the country.

And William Gheen takes issue with one of Bank of America's most recent pilot programs.

"Over 100 organizations have engaged in a boycott nationally against Bank of America for their decision to give credit cards and as well as mortgages and accounts to illegal aliens in America," said Gheen, the boycott organizer.

He says more than 19,000 people have signed his Online petition on his Web site aimed at boycotting Bank of America.

And he's encouraging people to drop their accounts, or switch their mortgages to show their opposition to the banks program.

"We feel this is aiding and abetting, inducing and encouraging illegal aliens to enter and remain inside the United States," Gheen said.

James Mahoney of Bank of America says this program is nothing new, and it is not targeted at illegal immigrants.

Issuing a credit card without a Social Security number has been a business practice by banks for years.

"Credit cards have been offered on a secured basis to customers who have checking accounts for many years at Bank of America and many other banks, so this is really not new," Mahoney said.

Many banks even offer home mortgages to people without Social Security numbers, under certain restrictions.

The pilot program offered by Bank of America is available to Los Angeles customers.

It offers special incentives for a secured credit card.

Customers have to have a checking history with the bank and have to make a deposit for the card.

Bank of America says it's a new program they do not plan on discontinuing.

Immigrants who wire money get help from the Fed
Directo a Mexico lets customers without Social Security numbers wire money at little cost.
By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Times Staff Writer
February 26, 2007

— Even as the federal government is starting to crack down on companies that hire illegal immigrants, it's been helping those same workers send money home, cheap.

Dubbed Directo a Mexico, the Federal Reserve-sponsored service allows customers without Social Security numbers to wire money through the Fed system to Mexico's central bank at little cost. In September, the Fed expanded the remittance program by allowing immigrants, legal or not, to open accounts at participating banks and credit unions in the U.S. or Mexico. About 27,000 transfers are made through the program each month.

The program has attracted the attention of conservative immigration activists and members of Congress, who say financial institutions shouldn't cater to illegal immigrants.

Rep. Brian P. Bilbray (R-Solana Beach), who leads the congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, said Directo a Mexico and programs like it should be stopped and that participating banks were "profiteering from illegal immigration."

Bilbray is also targeting Bank of America Corp., which this month announced plans to offer credit cards to immigrants without Social Security numbers, drawing complaints that the nation's largest retail bank was underwriting illegal immigration.

"It's illegal for a landlord to do it, it's illegal for an employer to do it, and it should be illegal for financial institutions to do it," Bilbray said.

Bank of America has said that it complied fully with all banking and anti-terrorism laws governing customer identification, which permit the use of forms of ID other than Social Security numbers.

Bilbray said legislators were working on proposals that would prevent financial institutions such as the Fed and Bank of America from catering to illegal immigrants, and are calling on the Bush administration to address the issue.

Elizabeth McQuerry, an Atlanta-based assistant vice president for the Fed's retail payments office, said Directo a Mexico wasn't breaking any laws. She said the program complied with the Patriot Act, the Bank Secrecy Act and other laws against money laundering. Customers must provide identification — a consular identification card or other picture ID — and banks regularly check the documents' authenticity, she said.

Fed staffers developed the program with counterparts at Mexico's central bank after President Bush announced it with then-Mexican President Vicente Fox in 2003. About 150 banks and credit unions participate, including 20 in California, McQuerry said.

Directo a Mexico was intended for all Mexicans living in the U.S. It did not specifically exclude those here illegally.

Only immigrants who are in the U.S. legally can get a Social Security number, but any Mexican national can get a consular ID, regardless of legal status.

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), an advocate of increased border security who has talked in the past of taxing illegal immigrants' remittances, said the Fed program might not be breaking any financial laws, but "there is a law against aiding and abetting illegal aliens in this country."

Conservative groups are also pressing the government to stop or modify Directo a Mexico. The Washington-based conservative legal group Judicial Watch, which says it has 400,000 members, obtained a copy of a Fed presentation about Directo a Mexico in December and posted it on its website to show that the government was not only offering a subsidized service to illegal immigrants, but actively marketing and promoting it.

"This program undermines our nation's immigration laws and is a potential national security nightmare," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement at the time. "In the least, the Federal Reserve must limit this program to legal aliens and U.S. citizens only."

Ira Mehlman, the Los Angeles-based spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said Directo a Mexico not only flouted immigration law, it hurt U.S. workers by draining money from the national economy.

"This is money earned by people who have come here illegally, often earned at the expense of other Americans, and then taken out of the country and not spent here," Mehlman said.

His group — which supports enforcement of immigration laws and reports 100,000 members, about 35,000 in California — says the U.S. government should better regulate wire transfer companies rather than offer an alternative that "makes it easier and more attractive for people to come here and break the law."

Economists and Directo a Mexico supporters dispute claims that the program harms the U.S. economy, and say it will actually help fight crime by encouraging people to use a legal, regulated money transfer service. They also say it may stem illegal immigration by making it easier and cheaper to wire money home, lessening the need for the sender's relatives to cross the border to earn a living.

Philip Martin, chairman of the Comparative Immigration and Integration Program at UC Davis, said remittances sent to Mexico last year were just a fraction of the U.S. economy, $23 billion out of a gross domestic product of more than $13 trillion. And as businesses increasingly serve illegal immigrant customers, he said, it's in the country's best interest to monitor their activity through programs like the Fed's.

"If you don't allow people to use the banking system, the money will still go, but it will build up a transfer infrastructure that terrorists can then use," Martin said.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), who leads the Western Hemisphere subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee, plans to hold hearings about remittances, which he said needed to be formally integrated into the U.S. banking system. "We should stop pretending that they're not there," he said.

Engel says the U.S. needs to standardize the wire system, linking the Fed to foreign central banks so that people can transfer money "without having to sneak around or do it on the sly."

"You cut down transaction costs, make it easier to do, and it helps everybody," Engel said.

The Fed offers a competitive exchange rate and charges banks 67 cents for each wire transfer to Mexico. After banks add their own fees, it usually costs customers $2 to $5 per transfer, regardless of the amount sent.

Private wire services usually charge more and add fees for larger transfers and for claiming the money in Mexico. The average cost of wiring $300 to Mexico from the U.S. was $10.40 last year, when 65.8 million of the transfers were made, according to a Bank of Mexico report.

McQuerry estimates Directo a Mexico saves its customers about $3.7 million annually.

Directo a Mexico proved popular at Mitchell Bank in Milwaukee, which remade itself as "Wisconsin's immigrant bank" during the last seven years to cater to an increasingly Mexican customer base. The bank offers the first two wire transfers free, then charges $2.50 for each additional wire — $4 for customers without accounts at the bank.

Monthly wire transfers average about 200, totaling $200,000, said bank Chairman James Maloney. He credits Directo a Mexico with attracting 10% to 15% more customers a month.

New customers include Jose Chavez, 52, an accountant and real estate investor who immigrated to Milwaukee from Mexico illegally in 1983 and later became a citizen. Chavez opened an account at Mitchell Bank last year after he heard about Directo a Mexico, and used it to open one for his brother in his hometown in the state of Michoacan.

Every two weeks, Chavez wires $100 to his mother, saving about $8 a transfer, and he recommends the program to illegal immigrants. "They have a hard time establishing credit here, for obvious reasons," he said. "But the reality is they're here and they are not going anywhere"

Maloney has fielded criticism recently for serving illegal immigrants. But he defends Directo a Mexico, which he supplemented with mortgage loans targeting immigrants.

"We find ourselves in a neighborhood that is heavily migrants. Our job is not to determine what other people's status is," any more than it's the responsibility of a grocery or department store, Maloney said. "These people live and work in our neighborhood. It's our job as a community bank to provide them services."

Group says bank caters to illegals
By Taft Wireback
Staff Writer
Greensboro News and Record
Posted on Monday, February 26 @ 18:11:42 UTC

Boycott Bank of AmericaA North Carolina group against illegal immigration is leading a boycott of Bank of America for testing a credit-card program allegedly catering to people living unlawfully in this country.

The Raleigh-based political action committee, Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, is urging Bank of America customers who are opposed to illegal immigration to sever their financial ties with the banking behemoth based in Charlotte.

ALIPAC says it has enlisted about 100 like-minded groups and attracted more than 15,000 signatures on a petition protesting the bank's pilot program in Los Angeles and all companies that help people break immigration laws.

"If what they're doing isn't illegal, then it should be," said William Gheen, president of the group. "We are fed up with these large, multinational banks and corporations. They have two standards: one for Americans, one for illegal aliens."

At issue is a program that Bank of America is testing in Southern California, offering provisional credit cards to people who don't have any credit history and who might also lack a Social Security number.

As substitute identification, the bank will accept the "matricula consular," a document issued by Mexican consulates to its citizens who live outside Mexico.

"The matricula consular card has received its share of criticism, much of it because it allows for the possibility that illegal immigrants may use it to participate in our financial systems," BOA Chairman Kenneth D. Lewis acknowledged in an article he wrote in The Wall Street Journal last week.

The bank says its target audience is not illegal immigrants, but people who have limited or no credit history. In fact, most applicants in the Los Angeles pilot do have Social Security numbers, Lewis said.

But he said the Mexican card was sanctioned as a suitable document in the USA Patriot Act for use in helping the federal government enforce laws against money laundering and terrorist financing.

Gheen said that his group believes the bank's true motive is corporate greed. The American taxpayer will foot the bill for illegal immigrants who default on the loans, through such programs as federal bank insurance, he said.

"They're acting like it's Bank of America that controls our country's destiny instead of we, the people," said Gheen, who has been interviewed about the boycott in recent days on several nationally televised new shows.

Bank of America has said it is test-marketing the new credit cards with Spanish-speaking customers in Los Angeles County.

To qualify for the cards, the applicant must be a Bank of America customer who has maintained a checking account for several months with no overdrafts. The cards carry a high interest rate and payment of an advance security deposit.

If the program does well in Los Angeles, the bank has said it will be rolled out nationwide.

Gheen said the boycott is aimed primarily at Bank of America, but groups supporting it also are gathering information about other financial institutions that accept the matricula card.

The boycott's Web site notes, for example, that BB&T and Wachovia banks honor the matricula.

But spokesmen for both banks said that they do not accept it as valid identification for credit transactions, only for people wanting to open checking and savings accounts or certificates of deposit.

Bank of America spokeswoman Betsy Weinberger said it had been unaffected by the boycott: "We're not seeing any abnormal business activity because of this issue."

Credit cards for illegal immigrants cause controversy
Feb. 24, 2007
North County Times

NORTH COUNTY ---- One of the country's largest banks caused a storm of controversy when it recently began issuing credit cards to people without Social Security numbers, most of whom are believed to be illegal immigrants.

In response to the criticisms, Bank of America Corp. officials said last week that the pilot program, unveiled in the Los Angeles area, does not specifically target illegal immigrants and complies with all federal banking laws.

Critics say the bank is helping illegal immigrants live, work and prosper in the United States.

"Bank of America needs to realize that the citizens of America run this nation, not big business," said William Gheen, a spokesman for the National Illegal Immigration Boycott Coalition, a group urging people to protest the Bank of America program and other banks that serve illegal immigrants. "And the current law states it is a felony to aid and abet illegals inside the U.S.," he said.

Not everyone thinks pursuing customers who may be illegal immigrants is a new ---- or bad ---- idea.

"This is not new," said Raoul Lowery Contreras, an opinion columnist who occasionally contributes to the North County Times and who is a former real estate loan officer with Citibank. "It's been going on for years."

After requests for an interview by the North County Times, Bank of America replied in a written statement:

"The issue of customers' citizenship, tax paying status is not any bank's focus. Know your client, Patriot Act issues and compliance with any government required documentation are our concern. This matter reflects the reality of all banks, and many retailers and U.S. businesses."

Financial analysts say that many banks have been lending to illegal immigrants since the Treasury Department released regulations, under the anti-terrorism Patriot Act, saying that financial institutions could accept identification cards issued by foreign governments, including Mexico's card, called the matricula consular.

Critics of the matricula consular say it is not a secure document and therefore weakens protections intended under the Patriot Act. Supporters say that accepting it encourages immigrants to assimilate into the country's financial mainstream, making the system more secure.

Not accepting the card would "drive large sections of the U.S. population to underground financial services, and weaken the government's ability to enforce money laundering and terrorist financing laws," wrote former Treasury Secretary John Snow in a letter to Congress in 2004.

Immigrants offer customer potential

Latinos make up about 45 million of the nation's 300 million people. They also make up about 80 percent of the country's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Bringing illegal immigrants' predominantly underground economy into the mainstream makes fiscal sense, analysts say. And their numbers are vastly under estimated, according to Bob Justich, a senior managing director at Bear Sterns, an investment, securities trading and brokerage firm.

Justich wrote a report estimating that the illegal immigrant population is closer to 20 million and makes up about 8 percent of the work force in the United States. He and other analysts say immigrants from Latin America send home more than $40 billion each year.

Most of those remittances are sent though commercial wire services, but bank systems are growing fast in popularity among recent immigrants, according to a survey released in October by the Inter-American Development Bank, an internationally owned bank that promotes economic development in Latin America.

Of the estimated $45 billion sent home in 2006, $13 billion was sent by immigrants from California, according to the survey.

More than half of the 2,511 people surveyed said they used wiring services, such as Western Union, to send money. But the share of those who said they used banks to send money grew from 8 percent in 2004 to 19 percent in 2006, according to the report.

The report estimates that Latin American immigrants earn about $500 billion a year, most of which stays in the U.S. economy. But only about half of the respondents said they had bank accounts.

That means immigrants make very tempting potential customers for banks, Contreras said.

"These people generally deal in cash," he said. "So they have cash around, and (financial institutions) want it in the banks."

In recent years, banks in the United States have started offering checking accounts and mortgages to illegal immigrants. But illegal immigrants have had little access to credit cards, making it difficult for them to establish a credit history.

Credit history an issue for immigrants

Opening bank accounts and establishing a credit history helps immigrants working in low-wage jobs save money, said Consuelo Martinez, an immigrant rights activist in Escondido.

Martinez, who said she worked for five years in the banking industry, said immigrants often have to pay exorbitant fees to cash their paychecks, pay bills, send money home and get loans for large purchases.

"A lot of these people don't have credit, so they have to pay through their nose for a car loan," she said.

Bank of America's program allows people to use taxpayer identification numbers issued by the Internal Revenue Service to people without Social Security numbers to open credit card accounts.

The bank permits customers who have had a checking account for three months without overdrafts to qualify for a $500 line of credit. There is a $99 security payment, which is refundable within six months if the customer stays within the credit limit.

Kenneth Lewis, chief executive officer at Bank of America, wrote an opinion piece published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal defending the program. He said he has heard the complaints about the new credit offers, but plans to continue the program in Los Angeles.

He did not mention whether it would be expanded nationwide, as previously reported.

"We know some will find this unacceptable," Lewis wrote. "Even so, we feel we have a great obligation to live by the laws of the land and to serve our customers and to do our part to support the security of our nation's financial system."

Opposition mounting

Gheen, with the Boycott Coalition, said his group will continue to target banks that cater to illegal immigrants. As of Thursday, the group said it has collected through its Web site more than 12,000 petitions pledging to boycott Bank of America.

"Most Americans haven't been aware of this, but more and more people have been smelling a rat," Gheen said.

Gheen said his coalition includes nearly 100 organizations, including the North County-based San Diego Minutemen and San Diego Border Alert.

Some in Congress have also begun to take notice. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colorado, is a leading voice for tougher immigration enforcement. He recently called on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to look into the matter.

"After Sept. 11, we were told that money was the lifeblood of terrorists, and that we should do everything possible to block their access to financial resources," Tancredo said in a statement. "Today, we are hearing a far different message: Bank of America, it's everywhere terrorists want to be."

Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, said Thursday that he also wants Congress to review banking regulations under the Patriot Act.

"There is a conscious effort to circumvent the legislation," he said. "They may get away with it for awhile, but I think consumers will revolt."

BofA to continue issuing controversial credit cards
Feb 23, 2007
The News Journal

Bank of America will continue a controversial pilot program in Los Angeles that markets credit cards to customers without Social Security numbers despite a national uproar, the bank said Thursday.

"We know some will find this unacceptable," the bank's chairman and CEO, Kenneth D. Lewis, wrote in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

The program is in full compliance with U.S. laws and the Patriot Act and is intended to help customers build a credit history, Lewis said.

"First, the program is not about illegal immigrants, and it never was," said Lewis. "Second, we believe we have an obligation to serve all those in our country who are legally eligible to receive services. To do less would be discriminatory and unfair."

The program is just one of a string of new initiatives the bank has tried recently to grow its business.

"They're needing to come up with other ways to expand," says Bill Hardekopf, CEO of, a Web site that compares credit card rates. "Most of the recent expansion in the industry has been vertically through acquisition. Here's a way for them to grow by tapping an untapped market."

Through four years of gobbling up smaller rivals, the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank -- which employs about 10,000 people in Delaware, mostly in its credit card division -- has grown to be the nation's largest retail bank and largest credit card issuer.

But after nearing a federal cap that bars any U.S. bank from holding more than 10 percent of the nation's deposits, the company said this week it would shift strategies toward more organic growth. "We don't need another U.S. acquisition," Lewis told Bloomberg News in an interview Tuesday.

Instead, Bank of America is trying to figure out how to tap new markets and squeeze money out of existing customers.

Some of those customers, such at Mort Kaplan, 75, of Dover, say they've paid the price for the bank's rapid growth.

Kaplan purchased dozens of long-term CDs at MBNA, but since the Wilmington-based bank merged with Bank of America, he has moved his CD money to other banks because of what he describes as terrible customer service.

"Their growth is not due to service, it is due to buying others." he said. "They didn't earn it, they bought it."

Analysts say they'll be listening closely for acquisition murmurs when executives speak at the bank's investor conference next week.

Jefferson Harralson, a bank analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, suspects Bank of America may be more ready for an acquisition than they're letting on.

After a year of unaggressively pricing CDs, the bank's deposit share has dropped to around 9.2 percent, giving the bank some wiggle room to buy a small bank, he said. The company has also been building up tangible capital, and recently declared the MBNA acquisition complete.

"If you add all three of those together, they're ready," Harralson said. Bank of America "traditionally will downplay its appetite for acquisitions, but they've been very aggressive over time."

The bank says growing from within is the natural next step after four years of rapid expansion.

In 2003, Bank of America had 24 million customers, 4,200 branches and 13,000 ATMs, said bank spokesman Joe Goode.

Today, after acquiring FleetBoston Financial in 2004 and MBNA last year, the bank serves 55 million people through 5,700 branches and 17,000 ATMs, Goode said.

Now the bank wants those customers to think beyond their basic checking or credit card accounts.

The company announced Thursday it would launch a new national advertising campaign during Sunday's Academy Awards telecast to attract customers to other bank services, such as home and business loans or retirement planning.

"Our marketing and branding strategy is about supporting and accelerating the growth prospects with our company," said Goode. "We are evolving Bank of America from a brand everyone knows to a destination brand that everyone visits and uses repeatedly." Not every trial balloon has gone over well.

Critics said the pilot program in Los Angeles offering credit cards to people without Social Security numbers targets illegal immigrants and could be a threat to national security.

One Web site (bankofamerica called for a boycott in response to the program, and has generated almost 12,000 signatures since it was set up a week ago.

Lewis' announcement Thursday that the program would continue didn't go over well with William Gheen, director of the National Illegal Immigration Boycott Coalition, the group that created the Web site.

"He just gave the whole country the finger," Gheen said.

Currently, there are no plans to expand the program in Los Angeles or to Delaware, bank spokeswoman Betsy Weinberger said.

Effort to Bar Tax ID for Loans Draws Latino Fire
From the Baltimore Sun
February 23, 2007

New legislation on Capitol Hill seeks to curb an increasingly popular mortgage concept: providing home loans to applicants using their individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN), in lieu of a Social Security number.

ITINs are issued by the Internal Revenue Service to assist immigrant workers who do not qualify for a Social Security number - but do have taxable income - to report their income and pay federal taxes.

Dozens of banks around the country have begun offering home mortgages to undocumented immigrants using ITINs, but their programs generally have been low-key and small in volume.

Bank of America stirred controversy this month when it announced a pilot program in Los Angeles to provide credit cards to resident-alien customers who lack Social Security numbers but have ITINs.

Some critics charged that the bank was seeking to profit by helping illegal immigrants who should be deported or prosecuted, not extended consumer credit. Bank of America said its program is legal and may be rolled out nationwide if the pilot is successful.

Topics: BoA, BofA, illegal aliens, credit cards, boycott, Bank of America, Americans, illegal immigration, invasion, border security, Federal Felony, stop the banks, congress, ITIN, Internal Revenue Service, illegal immigrant workers, Social Security number, mortgages, MGIC Investment Corp.,

Now a bill has been introduced in Congress that would prohibit financial institutions from providing home mortgages to anyone who lacks a Social Security number. The bill (H.R. 480), introduced by Rep. John T. Doolittle, would amend the Truth in Lending Act to make ITIN mortgage lending illegal.

The California Republican's office released a statement that said in part: "The government should not be in the business of creating incentives to encourage illegal behavior. Nor should companies be permitted to reward those individuals in clear violation of our laws."

Proponents of ITIN-based lending to homebuyers say Doolittle has it all wrong. Tim Sandos, president and chief executive of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, said Doolittle's bill would be "extremely disruptive," and affect far more people than the illegal immigrants the measure purports to target.

Sandos estimates that there are as many as 7 million to 8 million resident aliens in the United States who do not have Social Security cards, but are in some phase of the immigration process leading to citizenship.

That process can take years - often more than eight years - and "meanwhile these individuals are working here, earning incomes, paying taxes, contributing to the economy."

They "are not illegal," said Sandos. "They are undocumented. The government knows exactly who they are and where they are." Doolittle's bill, he added, "is the equivalent of trying to drive a tack with a sledgehammer."

Sandos' group, which is made up of Latino and non-Latino representatives of banks, real estate firms, developers, homebuilders and real estate service providers, conducted a study that concluded that if mortgage companies made greater use of ITINs to extend home loans to qualified buyers, $44 billion in new mortgages - primarily to first-time buyers - could be originated.

Geoffrey F. Cooper, director of emerging markets for MGIC Investment Corp., a major private mortgage insurance firm, said lenders in about 40 states are making mortgages to customers using ITINs. MGIC's role is to provide insurance against losses to lenders in the event borrowers default or go to foreclosure.

Cooper said his company's program was initiated at the request of community banks and other local lending institutions that found that many of their customers who lacked Social Security numbers - but had ITINs for tax purposes - earned solid incomes, had stable employment histories and excellent payment histories on debt obligations.

Under MGIC's program, underwriting standards are strict, with mandatory documentation of income, assets, residency and other criteria - stricter standards, in fact, than many lenders impose on applicants who have Social Security cards.

Homebuyers with ITIN mortgages "perform like 'A' credit borrowers," said Cooper, and they qualify for MGIC's favorable "A-premium" insurance rates because they are so dependable.

Janis Bowdler, senior housing policy analyst for the National Council of La Raza, an Hispanic advocacy group, said the homebuyers who use ITIN mortgages should be seen as "hardworking, taxpaying families who want to participate in the American dream," even if they do not yet have Social Security numbers because of their immigration status.

Sandos noted that making Social Security numbers mandatory to obtain a mortgage also could affect the ability of Asian, European, South American and other foreign investors who simply want to buy a house or condo in the United States for periodic visits, but not full-time residency.

That, in turn, could prompt foreign governments to impose restrictions on the ability of American citizens to buy real estate abroad.

Over $300K Seized from ‘Coyotes’ Who Use Banks to Funnel Funds
February 24, 2007
Gary Grado, Tribune

One man claimed on a bank account application that he is a street vendor who sells corn. One woman claimed to be a housekeeper and another claimed to be a student.

Those are a few of the hundreds of Arizona bank customers who hold accounts that flow with tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-state deposits.

Authorities allege they are funneling money for drug and human smuggling operations, and the state is now stepping up efforts to seize their bank accounts, according to court records.

Investigators allege in search warrant affidavits filed in Maricopa County Superior Court that “coyotes,” or human smugglers, have switched from laundering their funds through money transmitters such as Western Union in favor of traditional banks.

But smugglers “don’t like the banks as much because they require identification,” said Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard.

The Valley is known as a staging area for smugglers who send illegal immigrants to other parts of the country. Authorities have estimated that $300 million to $400 million in human smuggling funds is moved through Western Union annually in Phoenix.

Topics: illegal aliens, credit cards, boycott, Bank of America, bank accounts, Americans, illegal immigration, invasion, border security, Federal Felony, stop the banks, human smuggling, drugs, funneling money, coyotes, Western Union, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Washington Mutual

Since 2001, the attorney general’s office has seized millions of those dollars.

Goddard said that operation’s success forced coyotes and drug smugglers to change their money-laundering tactics, leading him to expand his operation by seizing Western Union money transfers from other states to Mexico.

A Superior Court judge ruled in January that Goddard can’t seize the money going from other states to Mexico, but Goddard plans to appeal the decision.

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights also sued Goddard in federal court, alleging thousands of innocent people were swept up in some of the operations.

Meanwhile, coyotes began moving their money through traditional banks with branches nationwide, court documents state.

The scheme works like this: A person opens an account in the Valley at a national bank such as Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase Bank or Washington Mutual. The person typically opens the account with the minimum required amount.

People in other states begin depositing funds, usually in large amounts but less than $10,000 to avoid reporting requirements.

The Arizona account holder then withdraws the money almost immediately.

“Hundreds of thousands of dollars in currency were funneled to receivers in Arizona from other states, and no money was deposited in Arizona for the purpose of being withdrawn in the other states,” wrote Phoenix police Detective Tim Burk.

Investigators asked three banks in January 2006 to look for that kind of account, and they “located hundreds of such accounts in their systems,” Burk wrote.

The attorney general’s office has executed four seizure warrants targeting 40 accounts between June 30 and Feb. 5, seizing $386,053 and getting court approval for $131,112 in forfeitures so far, said spokeswoman Andrea Esquer.

The bank seizures work like the Western Union ones. Investigators use software to pinpoint the suspected illegal accounts and then seize the money.

The account holder has to call a toll-free number to get it back, and a detective questions the person to decide whether the account is legitimate.

If the detective determines it is, then the money is released. If not, then the account holder has to go to court to get it back.

Mary Rowland, an attorney for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, hadn’t seen the seizure warrants for the bank accounts, but from a description of them over the phone she said they may contain some of the same constitutional problems as the Western Union warrants that are the subject of the lawsuit.

Rowland said the warrants seem to violate the due process clause and Fourth Amendment.

Poll: Bank of America is encouraging illegal immigration
Friday, February 23

There is no doubt how Business Journal readers feel about Bank of America Corp. offering credit cards to illegal immigrants.

In an online survey, 81 percent of 457 respondents think Bank of America is encouraging illegal immigration and should stop. Only 19 percent think the bank should be able to pursue any customers it wants within the law.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that BofA was offering credit cards in Los Angeles to people without a Social Security number or a credit history, as long as they had held a checking account with the bank for three months with no overdrafts. The bank plans to expand the program nationwide later this year.

Readers opposed to the plan think BofA should end it even though it's legal.

"Who in America doesn't have a Social Security number?" asked one reader. "Illegal immigrants. Obviously, Bank of America doesn't care that it's helping these lawbreakers. Shame on them."

Jacksonville Business Journal - 1:11 PM EST Thursday, February 22, 2007

Topics: BoA, BofA, illegal aliens, credit cards, boycott, Bank of America, Americans, illegal immigration, invasion, border security, Federal Felony, stop the banks!

The minority that supported BofA think the company should be able to pursue customers as long as it's within the law.

"As long as the credit offered is the bank's money and if the defaults are absorbed by the bank, then I say no problem," wrote one of the few supporters of BofA. "Immigrants play a needed role in our society."

The opposition to BofA's plan came with a fair amount of anger. Many readers said they will no longer do business with the company.

"I personally have more than $300,000 in various BofA accounts and I can promise you that I will be moving all of it if BofA pursues this course," wrote one. "My $300,000 may not be much in the grand scheme of things, but I'll wager that there are a lot of us who feel the same way."

Bank Boycott Coalition Releases List of Illegal Alien Banks

February 20, 2007


William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC)
(866) 329-3999 or

A coalition of over 100 anti-illegal immigration groups that are boycotting Bank of America are releasing a broader survey of banks, in order to assist consumers in relocating their money to banks that are not in the business of aiding and abetting illegal aliens!

"To our knowledge, this list is the first of its kind and lists almost 500 banks that our researchers surveyed," said William Gheen of ALIPAC. "It is a work in progress and is designed to tell Americans which banks are accepting the Mexican Matricula card and which ones reject this form of ID. Only illegal aliens need the Matricula to establish accounts, therefore, banks that accept the Matricula are welcoming illegal aliens."

The national scandal over Bank of America's pilot project to give illegal aliens credit cards has led to a boycott and rising public anger. The bank's phone lines are jammed, with long waits for irate Americans canceling credit cards, closing bank accounts and moving mortgages to new banks. The bank is responding by denying any responsibility for their actions.

Bank of America Executives are refusing to answer media and public requests for answers.

"We want consumers to know where they can take their money, when they take it out of illegal immigration supporting banks like BofA and Wells Fargo" says William Gheen. "We will continue our research to promote banks that are not encouraging, inducing, and aiding and abetting illegal aliens. Without this research, many of our citizens will jump out of the frying pan and into the fire."

The National Illegal Immigration Boycott Coalition (NIIBC: is placing the list of banks that do and do not cater to illegal aliens on the Bank of America boycott website at

This list of naughty and nice banks will continue to grow and more research will be added. Members of the public can send in information to help build the list and banks are encouraged to change their status on the lists by refusing to do business with illegal aliens.

Americans for Legal Immigration is a multi-ethnic, multi-party, national political action committee that is dedicated to inclusive activism, secure borders, and enforcement of existing immigration laws to reduce the number of illegal aliens in America. For more information, please visit


Paid for by Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC)
Post Office Box 30966, Raleigh, NC 27622-0966
Tel: (919) 787-6009 Toll Free: (866) 329-3999
FEC ID: C00405878

Illegal Immigration Coalition to Boycott Bank of America!

February 16, 2007


William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC)
(866) 329-3999 or

The National Illegal Immigration Boycott Coalition (NIIBC), which includes over 100 organizations, is launching a Boycott of Bank of America because of the bank's offer to issue credit cards, mortgages, and accounts to illegal aliens in the US.

"People are already canceling cards and accounts with Bank of America over this news," said William Gheen of ALIPAC. "The goal of the Boycott is to get tens of thousands of Americans to complain to BOA, ask Congress for action, and to cancel their accounts, until this bank respects public opinion and federal law."

Several online polls show over 80% of the American public disapprove of Bank of America's decision to offer credit cards to illegal aliens, with no Social Security numbers and no credit history.

"It is a slap in the face to every American struggling with credit card debt and rocky credit scores," says William Gheen. "Bank of America needs to realize that the citizens of America run this nation, not big business and the current law state it is a felony to aid and abet illegals inside the US. We want Bank of America charged and the decision makers responsible for this to face fines and jail time. We want the Rule of Law restored in America!"

The NIIBC launched a Boycott of Miller Brewing and their London based parent company SABMiller six months ago. Since that time, Miller's American sales have dwindled.

The netsavy anti-illegal immigration groups are launching a website to assist the Boycott at Citizens are encouraged to visit the site, sign the petition, and take action!

The coalition is comprised of over 100 non-racist organizations such as 9/11 Families for a Secure America, The Conservative Voice, Latino Americans for Immigration Reform, USAPAC,, and many others.

Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) is now one of the largest national organizations fighting against illegal immigration and serves as Director of the NIIBC. ALIPAC is a multi-ethnic organization that enjoys the support of many LEGAL immigrants. Supporters are organized in all 50 states. For more information, please visit


Paid for by Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC)
Post Office Box 30966, Raleigh, NC 27622-0966
Tel: (919) 787-6009 Toll Free: (866) 329-3999
FEC ID: C00405878
Join our Boycott today!

Please join our Boycott of Bank of America and sign our petition below to lend your support!

"We the undersigned represent the more than 80% of Americans that want our existing immigration laws enforced, our borders secured, and companies that hire, aid, and abet illegal aliens sanctioned to fullest extent of the law.

Aiding and abetting illegal aliens is a felony under federal law Section 8 USC 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv)(b)(iii). This law has a six year statute of limitations and companies currently violating these laws can be prosecuted up to six years in the future.

We the undersigned demand that all companies and corporations operating within the territory of the USA cease and desist any financial or political support for illegal aliens, groups, organizations, candidates, and activists that support illegal immigration and illegal aliens.

We further resolve to Boycott all companies identified as aiding and abetting these groups or individuals through the National Illegal Immigration Boycott Coalition. We will cease buying the products of these companies, divest our stocks holdings, and encourage others to do the same.

We will pursue all political and legal remedies to have our existing laws enforced and prevent companies from supporting illegal aliens and their support networks."

Sign the Petition