Credit Unions Debate Undocumented Members
A recent Letter to the Editor that stated credit unions should not serve illegal immigrants sparked a debate among CU Times readers.
“Since those aliens are here illegally, they cannot take up residence, for one cannot be both resident, which implies a legal status, and illegal,” wrote William R. Clark, board member at the $1.2 billion HAPO Community Credit Union in Richland, Wash. “Let’s cut right to the chase: Credit unions have no more business serving illegal aliens than they have serving money launderers. Both are illegal! That the current administration will more likely ignore serving the illegal alien than serving the money launderer does not make the former any more right.”
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Across social media channels many readers weighed in on the topic. Some agreed, thanking Clark for standing up for America.
“Mr. Clark doesn't see it as moral bankruptcy to not provide services to people who are in this country illegally and neither do I. If more services were refused then they would not feel so comfortable staying here,” commented one reader, ChrisCD. “There are legal ways to become an American citizen. Those wishing to enter our country should follow them.”
Another reader wrote, “If someone broke into your home, would you allow them to store their belongings at your home?”
Mr. Clark’s personal views didn’t sit well with many who like John Schaefer, director of marketing and business development at the $148 million Pasadena FCU in Pasadena, Calif., felt the issue boiled down to, “They’re people. Credit unions are people helping people.”
The discussion continued in the CU Times LinkedIn Group, as Daniel Morrisey, treasurer/CEO at the $2.5 million Queen of Peace Arlington FCU in Arlington, Va., questioned the assumption of illegal activities.
“The author of this article seems to conclude that all such ‘illegal immigrants’ are guilty of a crime. In other words, they are all criminals. From what many folks tell me, a great number (perhaps the majority) of such immigrants are not committing or have not committed a criminal act. While use of the term "undocumented" may seem to some as minimizing "illegal" or "criminal" actions or history, I believe it is more accurately describing or characterizing such immigrants," he wrote.
Alan Knapp, compliance and risk assessment consultant at Knapp Associates, echoed that sentiment.
“If the illegal aliens are earning their money legally why not serve them?” he wrote.
Others said Mr. Clark’s personal views could potentially create a public relations backlash for the $1.2 billion credit union, even though Clark included a disclaimer stating his views do not represent those of the credit union.
“A very unfortunate and sad opinion from a credit union board member. A remarkable opportunity for reputation risk considering HAPO's large geographic foot print that is very heavily Hispanic. His comments wont sit well with credit unions and knowing the area they wont sit well (when they are shared with the local and statewide media) with a majority of the hundreds of thousand consumers living within their large community footprint," wrote a reader.
Cooperative organizer Matthew Cropp added that the credit union model “was created to serve as tools of mutual self-help and uplift for economically marginalized people." He pointed to “the amazing (and life saving!) work being done by Latino FCU in North Carolina, which, the last time I checked, is the fastest growing credit union in the country.”