LOS ANGELES—“Something transformative” could be in store for underbanked immigrants, according to a discussion among credit unions and other experts here.
More than 50 professionals from credit unions headquartered across greater Los Angeles and Orange County, as well as industry experts, nonprofit leaders, and U.S.-Mexican government representatives, were part of what was described as a “lively discussion” here regarding the legalities and misconceptions surrounding financial services for 3.1 million immigrants living in California.
Hosted by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, and held at the offices of USC Credit Union, discussion at the “Financial Inclusion for Immigrant Consumers” roundtable centered on “something transformative” that could be in store for underbanked immigrant communities due to President Barack Obama’s recent executive order on immigration. H
“However, it’s going to take more knowledge, more action, and proper initiative to understand the culture and language surrounding this group of individuals,” participants at the Roundtable were told.
One theme that was prevalent during the discussion was that many credit union leaders are trying to make sense of how Obama’s executive order effects their current relationship with immigrant members and those who are looking to enter the financial mainstream. But it was also apparent that the comfort level of credit unions in offering financial services and products—and of immigrants in being served by them—is rising.
“If credit unions want to serve immigrants, you have to be engaged,” said Gilbert Cedillo, first-district councilman for Los Angeles and keynote speaker for the event. “You have to break through and have a relationship with them, speak their language, and build trust.”
Making sense of two U.S. policies—the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA)—was another hot topic, as was what types of identification are sufficient to receive financial services, whether an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) letter or the “Matricula Consular de Alta Seguridad,” a Mexican-government identification card.
Federation President and CEO Cathie Mahon said that for immigrants who feel comfortable opening their first account at a credit union, it will be a “fundamental moment” for many. “This is a huge opportunity for a large group of people who didn’t believe they could enter the financial mainstream before,” Mahon said. “This will be life-changing.”