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Bank of America Criticized for Offering Credit Cards to Illegal Immigrants

by Peter Andrew
Bank of America Criticized for Offering Credit Cards to Illegal Immigrants

Last week’s Wall Street Journal story reporting that Bank of America would test a program offering credit cards to customers without social security numbers has led to a flood of criticism from around the country. Opponents of the action say that offering financial products to people who are in the United States illegally encourages more immigrants to try to cross the border.

A group called The National Illegal Immigration Boycott Coalition is calling on consumers to boycott Bank of America and has set up an online petition to try to force Bank of America to pull the program. In San Diego, radio host and former mayor Roger Hedgecock encouraged listeners to come to the station and shred their Bank of America cards. Several lawmakers are now calling on the government to look into the legality of the program. Various newspaper editorials and letters to the editor echoed the sentiments.

Bank of America is testing the program at about 50 banks in the Los Angeles area. New cardholders do not need a Social Security number to apply, but they must have a tax ID number and a previous banking relationship with Bank of America. The bank says it is not specifically targeting illegal immigrants with its new offering, and it is not at this time planning to roll out the program nationally.

Despite the uproar, Bank of America is not the first major bank to offer financial products to those without Social Security numbers. Citi has offered credit cards, while Wells Fargo has offered mortgages. Other banks also offer checking and savings accounts.

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