November 23, 2007

Western Union: part of the illegal alien/open borders lobby

Posted by D.A. King at 12:14 pm - Email the author   Print This Post Print This Post  

From the N.Y. Times

Western Union Empire Moves Migrant Cash Home

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 — To glimpse how migration is changing the world, consider Western Union, a fixture of American lore that went bankrupt selling telegrams at the dawn of the Internet age but now earns nearly $1 billion a year helping poor migrants across the globe send money home.

Migration is so central to Western Union that forecasts of border movements drive the company’s stock. Its researchers outpace the Census Bureau in tracking migrant locations. Long synonymous with Morse code, the company now advertises in Tagalog and Twi and runs promotions for holidays as obscure as Phagwa and Fiji Day. Its executives hail migrants as “heroes” and once tried to oust a congressman because of his push for tougher immigration laws.

“Global migration is the cornerstone of how we’ve grown,” said Christina A. Gold, Western Union’s chief executive.

With five times as many locations worldwide as McDonald’s, Starbucks, Burger King and Wal-Mart combined, Western Union is the lone behemoth among hundreds of money transfer companies. Little noticed by the public and seldom studied by scholars, these businesses form the infrastructure of global migration, a force remaking economics, politics and cultures across the world.

Last year migrants from poor countries sent home $300 billion, nearly three times the world’s foreign aid budgets combined.

Western Union’s dominance of the industry casts it in a host of unlikely new roles: as a force in development economics, a player in American immigration debates and a target of contrasting attacks.

Western Union also held marketing events around the same time for people deported from the United States to Honduras and El Salvador.“They would arrive in a special holding area, and we would have an agent in there — a young lady in tight jeans, tight T-shirt” to promote Western Union products, said a former company official who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. “We knew that within a week they would be back on their way to the U.S.”

Mr. Tancredo, who is running for president, said the company’s activities occupied “a gray area” between aggressive marketing and “aiding and abetting illegal immigration.”

“Western Union wants to encourage illegal immigration in order to expand the number of people in their market,” he said. “Believe me, if I were president, I would ask the Justice Department to look into it.”

In 2004, Charles T. Fote, then First Data’s chairman, gave a speech calling for “comprehensive” reform, a term used by supporters of legalization plans for illegal immigrants.

The company sponsored public forums to promote the idea and donated $100,000 to a group unsuccessfully fighting Proposition 200 in Arizona, which requires proof of citizenship from people seeking to vote or collect certain public benefits.

As the debate moved to Washington, Western Union gave money to many groups supporting legalization plans. The United States Chamber of Commerce received “in the high six figures,” a Chamber official said, while an Illinois group used some Western Union money to bring busloads of immigrants to Capitol Hill. When a bipartisan Senate bill emerged last spring, company officials flew to Washington to lobby directly, urging Senator Ken Salazar, a Colorado Democrat, to support the measure. He did, though it ultimately failed.

“Most companies are afraid to speak up,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, which has received $40,000 from Western Union in the past three years. “When it got hot, they stayed with it.”

But proponents of stricter border controls see commerce, not courage, at play. “Western Union has decided that its business model depends on a continuing flow of illegal immigrants,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates low levels of immigration.

It is important that we all understand this basic: FOLLOW THE MONEY! Please read the rest here. See also: GEORGIA APPLESEED here.