Bank of America’s spirit of righteousness or justice

By supporting illegal immigrants through credit – even if the credit cards in question are subprime, or ones that are built on rather “tough” terms of payment – the banking industry is supporting the crime of illegal entry into the United States (Quinn, 2007). After all, the illegal immigrants have broken the law of the country. If the banking industry were to act truly in the best interests of the nation, it would report the illegal immigrants rather than support them. However, the potential to increase its revenues seems to have clouded the Bank of America’s spirit of righteousness or justice.

Pete Kendall wrote that the markets would eventually force the banking industry to stop offering credit to illegal immigrants. One of the reasons why the banking industry would stop upporting the illegal immigrants on its own is that the undocumented aliens who break the law of the nation by entering it unlawfully cannot be trusted to remain true to the terms of the subprime credit cards. It is an act of cheating to enter a nation illegally.

The people who do this are very likely to cheat the banks that offer them credit cards to boot. Even if they do not cheat their banks, the credit offered the illegal immigrants is very likely to turn into bad debt. Moreover, who is to say that the illegal immigrants would not flee the country immediately upon using all the money in their subprime credit cards? As a matter of fact, the term ‘illegal’ is enough to point out to banks that they are making a mistake by offering credit cards to undocumented immigrants. Illegality has to do with cheating, and banks cannot increase their revenues in the long run through business with frauds.

Subprime credit cards are high cost credit cards that ‘illegal’ immigrants are very likely to violate the terms of. In the case of subprime loans offered to immigrants who had wanted to own homes using such loans, the story goes that the loans forced countless immigrants into foreclosure and into financial disaster (Chappelle, 2007). Subprime credit is known to appeal especially to those that have poor credit histories. In the case of the illegal immigrants, they have no documented histories in the United States (Quinn). Lenders that offer credit to the undocumented aliens are greedy for revenues.

And, the illegal immigrants do not mind that the cost of credit is relatively higher for them than it is for the citizens of America. Being able to get credit is more important, and the high cost of the subprime credit does not bother the undocumented aliens because they have a history of crime in America – that is, even their entry into the country is illegal. Even if they have overstayed the authorized periods of their stay in Hence, it is easy for them to add crimes to their history of crime. In other words, even if they turn the credit offered them into bad debt for the lenders by fleeing the country, apparently their conscience would remain quiet.

Moreover, the subprime lenders realize that illegal immigrants are very likely to turn credit into bad debt for them. This is the reason why they offer high cost loans or credit cards to such people. The fact remains that it is unethical to support the illegal immigrants through credit. While these people play a role in the economic growth of the United States, they are cheating the nation.

Hence, the country faces an ethical dilemma. If no subprime credit is offered to undocumented aliens, and everyone who knows them reports them to INS, the United States would be able to get rid of a large number of illegal aliens and thereby enter a recession. The country may recover after some time, however, depending on the policies that it chooses during a period of recession. Still, knowing that the deportation of all illegal aliens would hurt the economy of the nation in the short run, the nation as a whole refuses to report all undocumented aliens that are breaking the law of the nation.

Fortunately, there are people that have protested the banking industry’s interest in offering subprime credit cards to illegal aliens. Ieva M. Augstums (2007) reports: When news broke that Bank of America Corp. was testing a new credit card available to customers who may be undocumented immigrants, the reaction was predictably harsh. Outspoken critics of undocumented immigration called for a boycott and said the bank could be supporting terrorists and drug traffickers. Some outraged customers closed accounts

ILLEGAL CREDIT FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS                                                                                                                     Page # 6 and sent back their cards, chopped into little pieces. The bank's chief executive, Ken Lewis, admitted that "finding oneself in the middle of a heated national debate is never pleasant. " But Bank of America isn't the first to offer such a card: Citigroup Inc. said it has done so for years, and Wells Fargo & Co. says it's thinking about it.

The cards are merely the latest progression for an industry that has spent millions to attract customers in the country's growing Latino community – and among the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. They also reflect a fact faced by every retail business in the United States. While they can't legally employ undocumented workers, there are few, if any, restrictions on welcoming them as customers. "As a business owner, you sell to whomever comes into your store. You sell to whomever buys from you online. It's easy, normally," said Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington. "Just in some cases where specific

identification is needed, like in financial services, it's more complicated. " It is true that business owners cannot ask for immigration documents when foreign customers enter their stores. Even so, those businesses that require documentary proof stating that a foreigner is living in the United States legally – should be required by law to report illegal immigrants to the INS whenever they run into undocumented aliens. The banks that offer subprime credit cards to illegal aliens are aware that the people they intend to do business with are undocumented aliens that are violating the immigration law of the United States.

It would be ethical for such banks to report the illegal aliens to the authorities, rather than to support their illegal stay in the country through high cost credit. The fact that such banks support illegal aliens through credit clearly implies that these banks are ready to break the laws of the nation themselves. After all, supporting a crime is also crime.

It is shameful that the banks that are offering subprime credit to illegal aliens are known as some of the top banks in the nation. But then, Enron and Worldcom were similarly loved by America before they were exposed as companies engaged in unlawful practices. Indeed, the government may very well decide in the near future to hold the Bank of America and its likes responsible for a crime – that of supporting illegal aliens. If the government fails to do so, however, it may be because of the economic growth that the illegal aliens are said to be contributing to.

All the same, Americans have very high expectations of their government. Hopefully, the government would choose to take an ethical stance against subprime credit to illegal aliens. If not, the unethical character of the illegal alien is expected to discourage the banks on its own. Although the undocumented alien is today willing to take a high cost credit card, he or she may easily flee the country upon using the credit card. And, if enough illegal aliens follow this methods of cheating, the banking industry would be discouraged enough to stop offering subprime credit to illegal aliens altogether.

Illegal immigration remains a crime in the United States. And, supporting a crime is always known as crime. By offering subprime credit cards to illegal aliens, the banking industry is engaged in an act of crime. For this, the banking industry might have to suffer through bad debt, seeing as the illegal aliens are not expected to be loyal to any American terms. But before the banking industry makes a major loss through its business with illegal aliens, the government might act to stop the banking industry from supporting undocumented aliens through credit. Moreover, it is important for the government to make it law for every citizen to report illegal immigrants to the INS. Until and unless that happens, innumerable Americans would be engaged in a crime – that of violating the law of the United States by allowing illegal aliens to break the immigration law of the nation.

Everybody who allows crime is engaged in a crime – indeed, this should be made clearer to all Americans.


1. Chappelle, Rita. (2007, March 30). “Mortgage defaults force out (ILLEGAL? ) immigrant families. ” Baltimore Examiner. Retrieved from http://www. examiner. com/a-647193~Subprime_loan_defaults_forcing_immigrant_families_out_of_their_home/. (6 April 2007).