Chelsea Schilling is a commentary editor and staff writer for WND and a proud U.S. Army veteran. She has also worked as a news producer at USA Radio Network and as a news reporter for the Sacramento Union.More ↓Less ↑
Chevy Chase Bank headquarters in Bethesda, Md. (photo: Google Earth)
A personal banker in Arlington, Va., is quitting his job after Chevy Chase Bank, one of the largest and best-known banks in the Washington, D.C., region, announced it will begin accepting consular cards from customers who many suspect are illegal aliens.
The bank announced its “Hispanic Banking Initiative” during a pilot program and is now accepting Matricula Consular de Alta Seguridads, or MCAS, at all of its branches so customers without U.S. government IDs may open accounts.
The MCAS is an identification card issued to foreign nationals living in the U.S. by the Mexican government via their 47 consulates. The National Council of La Raza estimates that more than 350 financial institutions currently accept them. Customers with the IDs – including illegal aliens – are able to open checking and savings accounts, order check cards, safe deposit boxes, cashier’s checks and wire billions of dollars to Mexico.
“I was becoming stressed out at work because I just knew in my heart that if someone came to me with this card I couldn’t just compromise my principles and open an account for them,” Chevy Chase personal banker Albert Thompson told WND.
The U.S. banking system relies on Social Security numbers to track accounts, verify identity and report taxable earnings to the government.
“Accepting the Matricula skirts that issue,” Bankers Online reports. “Many Mexicans who work in the United States do so in order to send money back to their homes in Mexico. FDIC says about $18 billion is wired annually from the U.S. to Mexico. Many U.S. banks have welcomed the IDs as a way to get a cut of this activity by profiting from the handling charges on the wires and increased deposits.”
“I always knew that the bank was doing this,” he said. “I just didn’t want to be a part of it. So, I deliberately did everything I could every time I worked for the bank to avoid being placed at a branch that was part of this initiative.”
Thompson said Chevy Chase Bank recognized that there is a growing Hispanic population in the Washington, D.C., area, so it decided to capitalize on that part of the market. But he believes problematic ID cards issued by foreign governments compromise the nation because many people who use them are in the United States illegally.
“What effort the consulates actually go through to verify that person’s identity and location is questionable, which is why the bank requires an additional proof of residency – like a U.S. cell phone bill,” he said. “It’s as simple as that – a cell phone bill with an address in the U.S. and that card. Then we just take their word for it.”
The U.S Treasury allows financial institutions to accept the Matricula Consular card as a valid form of ID. On Oct. 21, 2002, it issued a USA PATRIOT Act statement to Congress proposing rules that would require financial institutions to create customer identification and verification programs for all new accounts.
However, it states, “[T]he proposed regulations do not discourage bank acceptance of the ‘matricula consular’ identity card that is being issued by the Mexican government to immigrants.”
“The Government of Mexico has been particularly aggressive in marketing the use of its consular ID card, the Matricula Consular,” his testimony revealed. “The crucial element in the acceptance of any consular ID card is the ability to verify the actual true identity of the bearer of the card. In today’s post-9/11 world, this element is all the more important because, in order to protect the American people, we must be able to determine whether an individual is who he purports to be.”
McCraw said foreign nationals who are in the United States legally have little need for Matricula Consular cards because they have passports available to prove identity, open bank accounts, gain access to federal facilities, board planes and obtain driver’s licenses.
“It is believed that consular ID cards are primarily being utilized by illegal aliens in the United States,” he said.
After the U.S. government conducted extensive research on the Matricula Consular card, the Department of Justice and FBI concluded it is “not a reliable form of identification, due to the non-existence of any means of verifying the true identity of the card holder.”
McCraw listed the following problems with the foreign ID:
First, the Government of Mexico has no centralized database to coordinate the issuance of consular ID cards. This allows multiple cards to be issued under the same name, the same address, or with the same photograph.
Second, the Government of Mexico has no interconnected databases to provide intra-consular communication to be able to verify who has or has not applied for or received a consular ID card.
Third, the Government of Mexico issues the card to anyone who can produce a Mexican birth certificate and one other form of identity, including documents of very low reliability. Mexican birth certificates are easy to forge and they are a major item on the product list of the fraudulent document trade currently flourishing across the country and around the world. A September 2002 bust of a document production operation in Washington state illustrated the size of this trade. A huge cache of fake Mexican birth certificates was discovered. It is our belief that the primary reason a market for these birth certificates exists is the demand for fraudulently-obtained Matricula Consular cards.
Fourth, in some locations, when an individual seeking a Matricula Consular is unable to produce any documents whatsoever, he will still be issued a Matricula Consular by the Mexican consular official, if he fills out a questionnaire and satisfies the official that he is who he purports to be.
McCraw said the consular card is vulnerable to forgery and that 90 percent of the estimated 2 million IDs in circulation are simply laminated cards without security features. He listed two major criminal threats posed by the cards, and one potential terrorist threat.
The first criminal threat emerges as illegal aliens use the ID cards as “breeder documents” for establishing a false identity. At the time of the report, McCraw said 13 states used the consular ID for providing driver’s licenses.
“Once in possession of a driver’s license, a criminal is well on his way to using the false identity to facilitate a variety of crimes, from money laundering to check fraud,” he said. “And of course, the false identity serves to conceal a criminal who is already being sought by law enforcement.”
These criminals often open bank accounts under several different aliases and may have numerous IDs with the same photo and different names.
The second criminal threat McCraw listed concerns human smuggling across U.S. borders.
“Federal officials have arrested alien smugglers who have had as many as seven different Matricula Consular cards in their possession,” he said. “The cards not only conceal the identity of the smuggler, they also serve as a magnet for the victims who are enticed to entrust their lives to the smugglers, believing that the Matricula Consular that awaits them will entitle them to all sorts of benefits within the United States.”
Despite the gravity of the first two threats, McCraw called the terrorist threat “most worrisome.” While federal officials have come across people from different countries who have consular IDs, most are citizens of Central or South American countries – but least one individual of Middle Eastern descent has also been arrested in possession of a consular card.
He said, “The ability of foreign nationals to use the Matricula Consular to create a well-documented, but fictitious, identity in the United States provides an opportunity for terrorists to move freely within the United States without triggering name-based watch lists that are disseminated to local police officers.”
McCraw said terrorists can transfer money from one financial institution to another and even board planes using the cards as identification.
Former Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., also warned against the acceptance of consular cards.
“The only people who benefit from having such an ID are those who have come illegally and have broken our laws,” he said.
In a June 12, 2003, letter to Secretary Colin Powell, he wrote, “… using their consular offices here as lobbying agents to help undermine our immigration laws is an outrage and the State Department’s apparent acquiescence in this endeavor is even more incredible. … If you do not take steps to halt our cooperation and support of this practice, our country will see a virtual tidal wave of such cards issued to illegal alien by their embassies and consulates in the U.S.”
On Sept. 14, 2004, Congress rejected a proposal that would have prohibited financial institutions from accepting consular IDs – and U.S. financial institutions continued to tap the market by offering banking services to illegal aliens.
“Rational human beings should ask themselves if someone is obviously not an American citizen, they are in the country without U.S. government ID and without a passport, how on Earth can they be in the country legally?” Thompson asked. “Does Congress think the American people are stupid?”
While he said he enjoyed working with his co-workers at the bank for several years prior to the policy change, Thompson believes it’s time for American patriots and Christians to finally stand on principle and refuse to support businesses and entertainment companies that do not share their values.
And he said he’s doing his part to take America back – starting with his resignation.
“I think it’s time American Christians realize that we have allowed ourselves to become so dependent upon individuals in business and entertainment who have abandoned their responsibility to the common good and the stability of the community that we have not invested our own ingenuity into business, entertainment or technology,” Thompson said. “In essence, we are financing people who are against what we believe and who are, either purposely or just out of ambition for their businesses, harming America.”
He asked, “Why should Christians and patriots always be on the defensive against bad policies? Where are the Christian businessmen and entrepreneurs who can create companies that are viable and profitable so that Christians can work without being placed in a position where they have to choose principle over a paycheck?”