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Letter to House Appropriations Committee Members Regarding the Matricula Amendment

Letters to Congress

Letter to House Appropriations Committee Members Regarding the Matricula Amendment

July 19, 2004

Dear Appropriations Committee Member:

On behalf of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the nation's nearly 85 million credit union members, I am writing in strong opposition to an amendment that was included in the subcommittee mark-up of the FY2005 Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies appropriations measure, and ask for your support to remove this provision when the full committee meets this week.

Specifically, we oppose the amendment language that the Treasury, Postal Subcommittee adopted that prohibits the Secretary of the Treasury from expending any funds to "publish, implement, administer or enforce regulations that permit financial institutions to accept the matricula consular identification card as a form of identification."

Many credit unions in the United States already use matricula identification cards to open financial accounts for non-U.S. citizens, providing a safe alternative for Mexican nationals who otherwise would be forced to use expensive payday and predatory lenders for check-cashing and remittance services. It is crucial for credit unions, particularly for those in low-income areas, to be able to rely on official documents such as the matricula in opening accounts. Recognizing the legal authority supporting this documentation not only provides financial institutions with a measure of protection against fraud, but serves a broader purpose of integrating immigrants into the mainstream of American life.

This amendment also defeats the anti-money laundering intent of Section 326 of the USA PATRIOT Act, and undermines financial institutions' abilities to detect and prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Under the PATRIOT Act, credit unions and financial institutions are afforded the ability to determine what types of customer identifications will be accepted at their own institutions, based upon their member base and products and services that are offered.

Again, CUNA and its member credit unions strongly support the removal of this provision in the FY2005 Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies appropriations measure scheduled to be marked up this week by your committee. Your support to strike this provision would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Daniel A. Mica
President & CEO

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