Wells Fargo invests in prisons for Illegal Immigrants

How your dollars are being put to work

WASHINGTON. -Activists from the Hispanic community yesterday criticized Wells Fargo Bank by saying that it's a "profound hypocrisy" of them who seek for the biggest share of the Hispanic community market in the U.S., and also are lucrative in investing in private prison companies for illegal immigrants.

In a report titled " Wells Fargo's duplicity: friend or foe of the Latin community ", the coalition National People's Action (NPA) and the group "Public Accountability Initiative, asked that the bank withdraws all their investments in private prisons that shelter thousands of immigrants. The activists also asked that Wells Fargo should be more sensitive to the Latin culture, since that is what they try to reflect on the redesign of their branches and efforts to reach out to the community, which has found that the Hispanic market of U.S. is one of their "biggest opportunities "of growth, as indicated in 2006 by one of the company's main executives, John Stumpf.

Complaints were mainly about that the bank guides their judgment for "a thirst of earnings at any cost", and that their economic model shows "a deep hypocrisy "for having investments with private prisons.

In this second report, it was emphasized that Wells Fargo was the first bank in the U.S. accepting consular matriculations as a form of identification to open bank accounts, which only in 2003 more than 250,000 accounts were opened by these foreign documents, which normally are not accepted in other institutions.

The document also indicates that Wells Fargo has also taken a "good first step " on getting rid of 75% of their shares in the private company GEO Group, but demands that now was the "moment to eliminate the rest ".

Nevertheless, John Roehm who is a spokesperson of Wells Fargo, added that the bank does not possess actions in GEO Group and that a subsidiary "Wells Fargo Advantage Funds", is the one that decides how to invest for the benefit of the investors independently of the assets of the bank. He added that as of the end of 2011 the bank has reduced its shares down to 31 % "as the result of routine maintenance and of cuts in the stock portfolio.

" We are a bank and do not establish the migratory policies of United States, nor have anything to do with its application ... we do not also tell the federal and state governments what companies (of prisons) should receive any contracts ", said Roehm to Efe.

"To think that by simply protesting against our bank of some form is going to change the migratory policies of United States is a blunder, unfortunate and is not realistic ", he emphasized.

In the past activists have denounced that both the GEO Group and the Correctional Corporation "CCA" have invested millions of dollars promoting measures against undocumented immigrants, with the understanding that these measures would increase the demand for their services.

Roehm also state that the federal and state Governments have granted contracts to private prisons for the detention of immigrants for 30 years, and for "the people who want to change this, they must take their complaints to the state and federal authorities ".


Translation: Omar.Martinez@sandiegored.com


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