Banking and credit for illegal immigrants

Historically, illegal immigrants in the US have always had access to some kind

of credit, even if it was only loan sharks or payday lenders. The big problem

has been access to banking: getting a simple checking or savings account where

you can keep your money is non-trivial for legal immigrants, let alone

illegal ones.

Bank of America, now, is doing something quite sensible: it’s offering

credit cards to immigrants who have managed to get themselves a checking

account. In contrast to loan sharks and payday lenders, these credit cards help

build up your credit history, which will make it easier to get more substantial

credit, like car loans or mortgages, down the road. And although the interest

rate is high, it’s nothing by loan-shark standards.

Ooh, but Dan

Gross doesn’t seem to like it:

Miriam Jordan and Valerie Bauerlein report in the Wall Street Journal that

Bank of America is pitching a credit card to illegal immigrants. And the company

apparently put executives on the record to discuss it.

The weird thing that both the WSJ story and Dan Gross seem to miss is that

this credit card is only available to people who have held a Bank of America

checking account for three months. How many illegal immigrants do you

know with a Bank of America checking account? Says the WSJ:

Most banks require a Social Security number or ITIN to open an account, but

regulations also allow them to accept other government-issued forms of identification

in some instances, including passport numbers, alien identification numbers

or any government-issued document with photo showing nationality or place

of residence.

"In some instances" is right. The average illegal immigrant can’t

simply waltz into a Bank of America with a passport and open up a bank account,

I can assure you. The story, and Gross, make it sound like illegal immigrants

have easy access to banking services and tough access to credit; in fact, it’s

the other way around.

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8 Responses to Banking and credit for illegal immigrants

  1. Rachel says:

    good post Felix.

    relatedly the LA times had a today on Banxico’s remittance survey. “Fully 70% of migrants interviewed by Mexico’s central bank said they had a U.S. bank account.”

    Though since the survey took place at Mexican border towns in Mexico, the respondents are probably legal or quasi-legal immigrants – ie people who have already gotten access to a bank account and are willing to answer questions.

  2. Guambat Stew says:

    It’s BofA going back to its roots in the ‘hood. It starting life as the Bank of Italy in the Little Italy section of San Francisco, by A.P. Giannini. He’d lend to the Italian immigrants when no one else would. Like the Mafia, he also made a killing.

  3. ron says:

    Wow ! Who ever came up with this plan deserves a raise. As a result of the free publicity B of A will get a lot more accounts. Think about it…a bank that cares. The checking account is a huge money maker for these guys. They hold the money and lend it out and charge outrageous fees. The credit card story gets even better. Illegals will think as B of A as their bank. Wow what a story.

  4. Nick M says:

    Bank Of America is turning it’s back on American workers. By illegally aiding illegal immigrants in the taking of American jobs. The only way we can hurt Bank Of America is to boycott them. They will do anything for a dollar.

  5. Peter Schaeffer says:

    What Bank of America is doing is a violation of Federal Law. The bank should lose its banking license for it. Their executives could go to prison. Take a look at Bank of Illegal Aliens in America by Michelle Malkin ( She quotes liberally from the Federal statues. Note that Federal law explicitly recognizes the criminal nature of

    “offenses done for commercial advantage or private financial gain, 8 U.S.C. ßß 1324(a)(2)(B)(ii)”

    If this country is ever going to get a grip on its borders, we need to enforce our laws, not ignore them. We certainly can’t let banks and other corporations profit from violating them.

  6. Jose says:

    its really ridiculous how you all think of illegal immigrants in such a way. Number one the economy is doing bad. and second of all its because of who ?

    Americans. Yeah most americans have a checking account and not illegal immigrants. what about if they all had an account? dont you think they will help in a way? more money in the market that’s being part of the circulation flow. By the way illegal immigrants knw wat work is. Being in a office and taking calls from customers is being lazy what u call work immigrants see it as kick back. why because they harvest what you eat and because harvesting takes hard work. So all u forget about boycotting because your ancestors weren’t born here. Would u consider them illegal immigrants and will wish them that much harm?

  7. voxprivat says:

    “Bank on California” Money Laundering Scheme May Do for the State What Mortgage Meltdown Did for the Nation

    You will be amazed. Read full report here:

  8. Chayra says:

    I agree with Jose. Were are all immigrants just because some of us are illegal today does not mean that the ones who are “legal” today were always fucking legal. If it wasnt for illegal immigrants, America wouldnt be what it is today. Everyone that think there completely Americans that do no harm etc, are close minded idiots who need to go back to school and learn American history.

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