Undocumented Workers Offered Special Savings Accounts With Arizona Credit Union

From the Arizona Republic:

A restaurant chain with a store in Mesa offers to accept Mexican pesos for pizza and receives threats at its Texas headquarters.The state’s largest credit union is bracing for similar fallout as it begins marketing savings accounts to undocumented immigrants.

Officials at Desert Schools Credit Union say the potential reward – thousands of new customers – justifies the risk of angering a few customers. Ignoring the state’s fastest-growing population could be the equivalent of corporate suicide, one business expert said.

The credit union is prepared for the backlash, but confident in what they are trying to do. “We’re not in the business of asking people what their immigration status is. We’re in the business of providing financial services to individuals,” A representative for the credit union said.

“Fundamentally, I don’t see anything negative that might be associated with what the credit union is trying to do, if people have a broader context about what the alternatives are for this segment of the population.”—MEGHANN MARCO

Credit union defends accounts for undocumented [AZ Central]


Edit Your Comment

  1. I rather see the money collecting in the United States and available for local development… I presume the people who criticize the institution are having a knee-jerk reaction over the “slippery slope” effect of allowing undocumented workers to establish themselves in the States.

    I think it is better than money lining the pockets of Western Union and leaving the County.

  2. Country*

  3. Amy Alkon says:

    Yesterday, I was finally able to get my homeless artist friend a bank account by calling up through channels in the bank. (Getting my bitch on, I call it.) Thank you so much to all the commenters here who posted suggestions about that.

    Anyway, he’s a citizen, and a class act, and can probably get off the streets once I set up a paypal account for him so people can buy his art work without some tangled process of getting the money to him (a guy who works at Starbucks had been taking money through his paypal account and giving the artist the cash because he believes in him). Some buyers drove up from Orange County to Santa Monica to give him cash.

    But, illegals can bank with ease?

  4. Not to be argumentative Amy, but because your friend had a hard time, does that mean that getting a bank account should be made as hard or harder for other people… or are you more upset with the financial industry for closing doors on people because of their “status?” I hope the latter. That is how I’m looking at it.

  5. B says:

    Putting aside the Credit Union’s behavior, is it really a good idea to be opening a savings account if you’re staying in a country illegally? What happens if you get deported? Maybe that’s the real strategy here, hold on to people’s money, and then keep it when they get kicked out of the country.

  6. WindowSeat says:

    Until we come up with a decent guestworker program to give migrant workers some sort of legal protection I think easing the banking rules a bit will help. Illegals are charged huge fees to send money home and I would imagine there’s a lot of robberies involving large sums of cash that we never hear about since the victims cannot report the crime to police.

    I seem to remember Wells Fargo doing something similar a few years back, accepting Mexican Matricula Counsular ID for accounts.

  7. Gena says:

    It will be interesting to see how this works and how they’re able to get around federal regulations, given that I just opened a bank account at a major U.S. bank and had to provide all kinds of identifying documents and information (and I’m a citizen with a valid drivers license). This bank even had me read a little ‘to help the govt fight terrorism and money laundering, we ask for lots of info to prove who you are’ document before I could move forward. This has to violate some sort of federal banking law….

  8. kidgenius says:


    You should’ve had your friend go to a credit union. Banks are evil. Credit unions offer far more services with fewer fees. Credit unions are trying to serve the underserved. That’s one of their goals.

    I have been a member of this credit union for 25 years. They’ve never given me any problems. Overdraft due to a mistake, called up, resolved and refunded. Try doing that with a bank. They let me withdraw from any ATM (bank, other credit union, wherever) up to six times a month. All i have to worry about is the fee that the owner of the ATM may charge. Also, credit unions across the country don’t charge you to withdraw money from their ATM if it is another credit union.

    Think about this. Do we want these illegals going to a check cashing center where huge cuts are taken out, or go to a credit union with no problems and actually have some savings. See the other story about the US savings rate?

  9. tz says:

    I prefer credit unions to banks, but both are required to “know your customer”, and were even before 9/11, though it is worse now. What ID do they produce?

  10. weave says:

    I take it they don’t have to supply a valid SSN then? So any interest earned on savings is what, tax free? Sounds like a good idea for the rest of us. Just claim you are “undocumented” and get a tax-free savings account!

  11. dculberson says:

    “Corporate suicide?” Putting aside any discussion about the merits of their program, I hate it when companies try to say they have to do [x] where [x] is something new/different/specific or they’ll go out of business. If they can’t stay open providing services to the general US population, then perhaps they aren’t very good at what they do and should go ahead and shut down?

    Again, my comment has nothing to do with the particulars of the program; I’m just chiding them for their ridiculous hyperbole.

  12. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    Hmm I smell BS when I see it. This is exactly the reason why millions of illegals are pouring into our country. If you are illegal you have no right…zero…zilch. We should provide no service beyond a bus ride to the border for them. Allowing them any rights like this undermines the rights we have as citizens. I have lived abroad for several years in the past and I was always aware that citizens in these countries have rights and privileges that were not offered to non-citizens. You would never go to another country and beg for help if you got their illegally so why is it any different when they come here? The thousands of people who come here legally are spit on by our Govt. and business’s just to make a few bucks…pathetic. I hope this place goes out of business from the huge backlash.

  13. Amy Alkon says:

    Angry Sicilian, the laws are supposed to be in place to prevent terrorism, and if anybody can get an account — sans documentation — well, what, exactly, are they prevening, except people from having a safe place to keep their money, and being able to function as consumers?

    And as a homeless guy without a car, his options are pretty limited to what’s in his general stomping ground. A credit union is not an option.

  14. I think Nemesis’ comment qualifies as a ‘knee jerk reaction’.

  15. neobolts says:

    Knowingly and purposely moving and handing illegal money is organized crime. The Attorney General’s office should figure out how to recover some the massive tax burden illegal aliens create by coming after financial institutions like this one.

  16. neobolts says:

    Knowingly and purposely moving and handing illegal money is organized crime. The Attorney General’s office should figure out how to recover some the massive tax burden illegal aliens create…by coming after financial institutions like this one. “Let’s reward crime!” is not a marketing strategy the public should accept.

  17. kidgenius says:

    Guys…you all need to chill out. No one here is understanding what this is all about. All this huge story is about is that DSFCU has started heavily marketing towards immigrants that have a valid Matricula Censular. Furthermore, the only way you can open an account if you are not a US citizen is with a Matricula Censular. And guess what? Every other bank and financial institution accepts Matricula Censular as a valid form of identification. Bank of America, Bank One, and Wells Fargo all accept it. So if you want to get all huffy, go scream at all of these financial institutions. Heck, BofA were the ones who heavily pushed to allow Matricula as a valid form of ID. No one needs to call any AG’s.

  18. kidgenius says:

    Furthermore everyone…most, yes MOST illegals give a valid SSN to an employer when they begin working. It may not be their SSN, but is IS a valid SSN. Day laborers do not do this, but more people are working in restaurants, cleaning companies, etc. than are day laborers. So, these illegals are working, having taxes taken out of their checks and are paying social security but, they will of course never receive those benefits. So you guys can quit pooh-poohing about “tax burdens” etc.

  19. When is it that we begin to refer to another group of humans as “them” or “illegals”. What fundamental value gets twisted so that we can view another person as a human who has different rights than “us”? I’m on a soapbox here, but really, well.. now that I think back on history I guess it is natural to want to seperate humans into different groups and categories and castes. I guess there is nothing new here. Nevermind.

  20. shoegazer says:

    I hate the nasty undertones in this thread from some commenters, as though “them illegals are comin here and takin all muh benefits” instead of the reality: Americans exploiting cheap, undocumented labor for fun and profit. Shame on you.

    “Allowing” illegals “any rights” beyond a bus back to the border undermines your country? I guess you should track them all down, ship em out in cattle trains and if they can’t get out, maybe you should keep them all together. You know, in camps, so they don’t get lost in the system and all. Oh I forget, this is to combat terrorism. You already have a camp for that. NVM.

  21. shoegazer says:

    The point is that laws DO exist to combat illegal migration, money laundering and income taxes. If this falls foul of ANY of those, then the state / federal guys will definitely come down on the INSTITUTION for that.

    As mentioned, only those with valid documents even get to open an account, so what’s new here? Only the fact that a bank (GASP) decided to market its services to a non-citizen segment of society who contributes to the local economy. Damn, call the Feds.

    This has NOTHING to do with Joe Illegal and everything to do with the ugly stereotype of Joe Illegal that people perpetuate. How dare they try to bank their earnings, why don’t they just f*ck off to a Payday and cash your check there, like the rest of us.

    /rant off. Obviously a sensitive issue, as I’ve had banks deny my service for being a (legal) immigrant of good standing and decent wage. Now that one bank is trying to address that problem, people accuse it of “pandering to illegals”. WTF.

  22. RandomHookup says:

    From what I’ve seen online, the Real ID Act will eliminate this option when it goes into effect in 2008. Sounds like you will have to show a valid visa and passport to be able to open an account as a noncitizen.

    Open those accounts now, amigos.

  23. Tonguetied says:

    “When is it that we begin to refer to another group of humans as “them” or “illegals””

    Maybe when they came across the border illegally?

  24. SteveXo says:

    I guess I don’t really see this as an immigration issue. Americans have been able to open accounts in Switzerland, the Bahamas, and various other countries for decades. Why not allow non-citizens to have bank accounts in the U.S.?

    For the record, I am staunchly against illegal immigration, but this seems like a non-issue. Same as the Pizza Patron thing. If I had visited Mexico recently, had some left over pesos, and wanted a shitty pizza… I’d probably be glad to use my pesos at Pizza Patron.

  25. Sorenso says:

    Hmm, not much for history? Read about the Romans and how they fell.

    Immigration is fine, illegal immigration is not. Nothing like prompting illegal activities. The bankcredit union should be shut down.