"People are already canceling cards and accounts with Bank of America over this news," Gheen pointed out. His contention is backed up by the commentaries of several irate long-time Bank of America customers interviewed on television last week.
"The goal of the boycott is to get tens of thousands of Americans to complain to BOA, ask Congress for action, and to cancel their accounts, until this bank respects public opinion and federal law," Gheen said.
Because of a provision in the Patriot Act that allows banks to use unsecured forms of identification, Bank of America chose to accept the easily obtainable matricula consular card issued by the Mexican government and wave the need for a social security card as a form of ID. In order to qualify for a credit card all the bank requires of a customer is that he or she maintains a checking account without an overdraft for three months, pay a deposit of about $100 and agrees to a high interest rate on any purchases (21.24%).
Claiming that it was not illegal to sell products to undocumented immigrants, Bank of America has expanded the issuance of its credit card program from five branches in Los Angeles County in 2006 to about 50 now.
But even though the bank is taking the brunt of controversy over their policy, other businesses previously have capitalized on tapping into the dynamic Hispanic market, including the mortgage arm of Wells Fargo. Many of these business are accepting an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) issued by the Internal Revenue Service to those ineligible to receive a social security number even though the IRS claims that ITINS are not valid ID outside of the tax system.
A website to assist the boycott has been set up at www.bankofamericaboycott.com. Those annoyed over the seemingly double standards for citizens and illegals are encouraged to sign the petition presented on the website. Within 24 hours the number of petitioners has tripled and presumably will continue to grow.
A work in progress has been posted on the bankofamericaboycott.com website that shows by state which banks accept the Matricula Consular Card as a form of identification and which banks do not. Joining Bank of Ameria in accepting the Matricula Consular Card are these well-known institutions: State Farm, Wachovia, US Bank, Wells Fargo, Arvest, and Regions Bank. Among those that do not accept the card are Countrywide Bank, Sun Trust, Bank of New York, Commerce Bancorp and UMB Financial.
Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) claims to be one of the largest multi-ethnic national organizations fighting against illegal immigration, and enjoys the support of many legal immigrants.