Jewish World Review Nov. 30, 2001 / 15 Kislev, 5762

Michelle Malkin

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Consumer Reports

Banking on American stupidity -- SOME American banks just don't get it. Here we are, at war with deadly foreign terrorists who exploited our lax immigration policies, and what are these U.S. financial institutions doing? Making it easier for illegal immigrants to do business inside our borders.

Earlier this month, California-based banking giant Wells Fargo proudly publicized its plan to loosen identification guidelines for Mexican customers who want to open American checking or savings accounts. Banks usually require foreign customers to show passports as a primary form of ID, with credit cards and Social Security numbers or federal taxpayer ID numbers as backup documents. But now, as a result of heavy lobbying from the Mexican government and Hispanic-American activists, Wells Fargo will accept an ID card issued by Mexican consulate offices known as "matricula consular."

Any Mexican national living abroad (read: any illegal Mexican immigrant living in the U.S.) can get the card by simply supplying proof of Mexican citizenship, such as a birth certificate or voting card. No other secondary ID is needed if a Wells Fargo customer signs a residency form from the Internal Revenue Service - which emphasizes that it will not share the information with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Not that clueless INS officials, who let Sept. 11 hijack ringleader Mohammed Atta and his visa-overstaying alien conspirators slip through their fingers, would do anything with the information, anyway. Tony Lew, an INS spokesman in Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times that the agency has no problem with Wells Fargo's new policy. "Our priorities are to go after illegal immigrants involved in committing crime," he said. "If they are law-abiding citizens, we don't have the resources to go looking for them."

Memo to the INS: Illegal aliens are, by definition, law-breaking criminals. Good grief. Will the INS ever learn? It's exactly this deaf, blind, and dumb culture toward illegal aliens that al Qaeda terrorists - several of whom worked with Hispanic immigration scam artists to obtain fake documents -- used to their bloody advantage.

Backed by the feds, bank officials eager to cash in on the huge illegal alien market -- and score a few P.C. brownie points - are pulling out all the stops to lower the bar for "undocumented" Mexican customers. "We welcome you to come to one of our branches," Wells Fargo Bank vice president John Murillo crowed at a Spanish-language news conference, "where we won't question your legal status."

Here are more bank officials to put that criminal-friendly welcome message in neon lights: "Wells Fargo does not focus at all on the legal status of our customers," California marketing manager Gari Helms told the Los Angeles Times. "Whether someone is legal or illegal is not for us to determine," Alice Perez, Hispanic marketing manager for US Bancorp, told the Chicago Daily Herald.

US Bancorp moved quickly to accept Mexican IDs following Wells Fargo's announcement. Also accepting the Mexican consular cards: Firstar banks, Harris Bank, Union Bank, and U.S. branches of the Puerto Rico-based Banco Popular. The American Banker newspaper reports that Seattle-based Washington Mutual Inc. is "actively looking into" loosening its ID policy for Mexicans.

Also following Wells Fargo's lead: local governments in California, such as Orange County and San Francisco, which will now accept the consular cards as identification so that illegal aliens jailed for "minor offenses" will not be deported.

And Mexico is only the first step. Wells Fargo has said it is open to accepting similar cards issued by other governments.

Once again, the convenience and comfort of illegal aliens overrides the safety and security of American citizens. You think Osama bin Laden and his America-hating followers around the world won't find a way to exploit this new brainless program, too? You can bank on it.

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.

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© 2001, Creators Syndicate