Tuesday, August 28, 2007


EXCUSE US, Wells Fargo pioneered acceptance of the matrícula in 2001 after police department in Austin, Tex., asked local financial firms for help in preventing holdups of undocumented immigrants who, lacking I.D.s to open bank accounts, tend to carry wads of cash. So we have Wells Fargo and the Austin, Texas Police department to thank? Banking and Police, What on earth!
WADS OF CASH AND WELLS FARGO PIONEERED ACCEPTANCE OF THE MATRICULA CARDS IN 2001! OR HOW ABOUT THESE LITTLE ADD ON's: Later that year, former Mexican Ambassador Marta Lara of the consulate general of Mexico in Los Angeles asked the bank to do the same in this area, Arredondo said.

Issued by the Mexican government, the matricula consular card has been in use for more than a century and is how Mexico keeps track of its citizens abroad LETS GET OUR INFO ON HOW MANY ARE HERE DIRECTLY FROM MEXICO.

In 1997, the Austin City Council passed a resolution declaring the city a "Safety Zone, where all persons are treated equally, with respect and dignity, without regard to immigration status."

This means, more or less, that immigrants will not be questioned about their status when applying for social services, say, or seeking day labor. The APD, likewise, doesn't do the INS's work for them. According to Assistant Police Chief Mills, "Generally, it has been a long-held policy that we don't enforce immigration laws." In the case of a roundup by INS, he says, "we would not participate. What we would do, and have done, we might work the perimeter to make sure [no one gets hurt] -- THIS MEANS PUBLIC AID AND CITY RUN DAY LABOR FACILITIES FILLED WITH ILLEGALS MAKING LOW END 8.00 DOLLARS AN HOUR.

From 9/11 Commission hearings:

LEHMAN: "Were you aware that it was the US government established policy not to question or oppose the sanctuary policies of New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, San Diego for political reasons, which policy in those cities prohibited the local police from cooperating at all with federal immigration authorities?"

CONDOLEEZA RICE: "I do not believe I was aware of that."

At the same time, though, the fast-growing undocumented population is coming to be seen as an untapped engine of growth. In the past several years, big U.S. consumer companies -- banks, insurers, mortgage lenders, credit-card outfits, phone carriers, and others -- have decided that a market of 11 million or so potential customers is simply too big to ignore. It may be against the law for the Valenzuelas to be in the U.S. or for an employer to hire them, but there's nothing illegal about selling to them.

So with a wary eye on the heated political debate, business is targeting the Valenzuelas and millions of others who have entered the country illegally. Many companies do so more or less openly. Wells Fargo has half a million matrícula accounts, a majority of them, they acknowledge, opened by unauthorized aliens who lack regular residency or citizenship papers. At the Valenzuelas' branch, fully 80% of accounts are opened by matrícula holders. Blue Cross of California, whose parent, WellPoint Inc. (WLP ), is the nation's largest health insurer, sells health insurance to matrícula holders from company-staffed desks set up inside Mexican and Guatemalan consular offices in the U.S. Sprint Corp. (FON ) accepts such an I.D. for cell-phone contracts.

Other companies, such as Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT ), won't discuss the status of their customers but explicitly target Hispanic newcomers -- more than half of whom are estimated to enter the U.S. illegally, according to a new study by Pew. The consumer-products giant provides workbooks at local English-as-a-second-language classes that include instructions for using coupons for products such as Kraft's Capri Sun drinks in U.S. grocery stores. It also hosts bilingual sweepstake events in Hispanic neighborhoods. "We need to fish where the fish are," says Robert Simpson, Kraft's director of multicultural marketing. He calls part of the Hispanic audience he's trying to reach the "unacculturated," meaning people unfamiliar with American culture and customs.

The corporate Establishment's new hunger for the undocumenteds' business could have far-reaching implications for America's stance on immigration policy, which remains unresolved. Corporations are helping, essentially, to bring a huge chunk of the underground economy into the mainstream. By finding ways to treat illegals like any other consumers, companies are in effect legalizing -- and legitimizing -- millions of people who technically have no right to be in the U.S. It's even happening in mirror image, with some Mexican companies setting up programs to follow customers who move to the U.S. All this knits the U.S. and Mexico closer together, further blurring the border and population distinctions.

The economic impact could be significant. While most analysts peg the number of illegal immigrants at 10 million to 11 million, a recent study by Bear Stearns Asset Management (BSC ) concluded that data on housing permits, school enrollment, and foreign remittances suggests there could be as many as 20 million. Either way, experts agree that the undocumented, a majority of whom are Hispanic, are one of the nation's largest sources of population growth. They add 700,000 new consumers to the economy every year, more even than the 600,000 or so legal immigrants, according to Pew's new study. What's more, 84% of illegals are 18-to-44-year-olds, in their prime spending years, vs. 60% of legal residents.