Alpine Bank now accepting Mexican IDs
Mexican nationals in the valley who don1t have a U.S. identification card can now choose between two banks to open accounts: Wells Fargo and Alpine Bank.As of Monday, Alpine Bank, which has 28 locations in the Western Slope<six in Eagle County<accepts the 3matricula consular, an identification card issued by the government of Mexico, as the sole ID necessary to open a bank account, transfer money internationally or conduct other financial transactions.Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank have been accepting the matriculas since last year. FirstBank, which also serves a large population of Hispanics in the Vail and the Roaringfork valleys, may accept the ID soon, too, said Tammy Keffeler, the bank1s executive vice president.The matriculas are useful for those Mexican nationals without a U.S. ID who were unable to open bank accounts or transfer money back to their families in Mexico because the had no proof of address. To open an account and do other transactions, banks ask for an ID that is officially recognized<such as a drivers license, which has an address in the United States.3We believe that by approving this form of identification, we are making iteasier for Mexican nationals to cash checks, open accounts and, in general,use our bank, said John Cooper, executive vice president of marketing forAlpine Bank.The matriculas are official photo IDs issued by the government of Mexico to its citizens who live and work in the United States. Forty-six consulates of Mexico in the United States are issuing the document, which is valid for five years.3It1s a lot of money out there that people are keeping underneath their mattresses, said Mario Hernandez, spokesman for the Mexican Consulate in Denver. 3It1s not safe for them, and it1s not good business for banks.Lately, Cooper said, in addition to opening savings and checking accounts, Hispanic customers have been looking at managing and safeguarding their money.3The primary purpose of the ID is to show that the person who asks for the service is who he says he is, no matter if he is a legal or illegal resident in the country.3The IDs also will help to reduce potential exposure to fraud, Cooper added.In the first three months of 2002, the Mexican consulate in Denver issued more than 8,000 matriculas, said Javier Chagoya, deputy consul at the Mexican Consulate in Denver.Leticia Calzada, consul of Mexico in Denver, visited Glenwood Springs in February and talked to business and bank representatives about the Mexican IDs. Calzada had also been working in trying to get drivers licenses and U.S. IDs for Mexicans without proving they were legal immigrants.That same month, however, the state Senate1s Government, Veterans and Military Relations and Transportation Committee killed Senate Bill 67, which would have allowed undocumented immigrants to get a Colorado drivers license or identification card.3Ms. Calzada1s visit accelerated our interest in knowing more about what documents were necessary to get the matricula, Cooper said.Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Wells Fargo began looking at the matriculas as a form of identification.The mortgage side of the banking business is difficult for some Latinos because Social Security numbers are needed to run credit checks, saidSusie Meraz, a home mortgage consultant for Wells Fargo.Some lending programs require applicants to be U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens, while others will loan money to people with work permits or work visas, she said.Alpine Bank, Cooper said, is continuing to explore other ways to reach out to Latino customers, some 15 percent of their business.3We acquired 10 percent of those clients in the past year, he said.3Latino customers have proven to be very loyal. They are good ambassadors for us. They spread out information about the services they get at the bank.Besides hiring bilingual employees at branch banks, Cooper said, the company has created a task force that has 50 percent Spanish-speaking employees, 3to try and determine how we can better understand and respond to their financial needs.The Mexican consulate in Denver is also working to get the matriculas recognized by different organizations, in addition to the banks. Several police and sheriff agencies in other states already have agreed to recognize the ID cards as legitimate proof of identification.Glenwood Post staff writer Dennis Webb contributed to this story.
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