Wells Fargo Official Links Lending to Immigration Reform

By Ronald W. Mortensen on January 21, 2014

According to a Utah Policy report, during a pre-legislative CEO briefing at the Salt Lake Chamber, Dave Golden, the head of Wells Fargo Bank's western commercial lending division and an influential member of the Salt Lake Chamber, said that bankers won't start lending until they see stability and certainty in tax policy, immigration reform, health care, and debt management.

Including immigration reform among the conditions for banks to start lending is consistent with Wells Fargo's long-standing emphasis on gaining the business of individuals who are unlawfully in the United States and who rely on the Mexican "matricula" card for identification to open bank accounts.

According to a 2102 report:

A 2004 [Business Week] article on Wells Fargo and its banking practices predicted that one of its fastest growing markets would be Mexican-Americans and Mexicans in the Southwest United States, and noted that the bank was already tailoring its products to accommodate this group.

In particular, Wells Fargo's regional president, Shelley Freeman, told BusinessWeek, "One of Wells's most crucial means to grow in the Hispanic market is our acceptance of the 'matricula' card — a form of identification issued to Mexican nationals by the consulates — as a valid form of identification to open a checking account. We started accepting the matricula card in November 2001. Since then, we've opened 250,000 new accounts from people using the card as ID."

During the first three months of 2004, about 22,000 people a month opened Wells Fargo bank accounts using "matricula" cards.

The company also created a program with the Mexican branch of HSBC to send remittances; teamed up with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to create a loan program for Hispanic business owners; and formed Wells Fargo Amigos, a 200-person group focused on building connections with the Latino community.

So, is Wells Fargo holding billions of dollars in reserves in order to show solidarity with a key portion of its customer base rather than helping create jobs for millions of unemployed Americans?

Does Wells Fargo include immigration reform among it concerns about Washington inaction in an attempt to pacify customers who are calling for a boycott of the bank because it has a mutual fund that holds shares in a company that operates immigration detention centers?

And is Wells Fargo holding billions of dollars in reserve in order to help pressure politicians to pass immigration reform?

Mr. Golden's comments coupled with Wells Fargo's business model and the Salt Lake Chamber's unconditional support for amnesty for illegal aliens could leave one with that impression.