Los Angeles,CA–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–September 24, 2002–The Consulate General of Mexico and the Latino Education Achievement Project (LEAP) announced today a nationwide educational initiative introducing basic banking services to immigrants. The initiative features a new 32-page banking guide developed by LEAP.
During 2002 over a million identity cards will be issued by 47 Mexican consulates throughout the United States. Over 50 financial institutions are accepting the matrícula consular identity cards as a primary form of identification to open bank accounts. LEAP’s new booklet details the services and opportunities that banks will offer matrícula cardholders.
A survey conducted by the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles in November 2001 found that over 70% of all Mexican nationals who received a Matrícula Consular did not have a bank account. Over the next 6 months, according to reports by the Mexican Government, over $50 million dollars was deposited in more than 25,000 new accounts in California alone. Reports also indicated that most cardholders did not understand how to open a bank account nor were they informed on how banks functioned.
According to Raúl Lomelí, President of LEAP, “This innovative project would not have been possible without the tremendous guidance and support of Ambassador Martha I. Lara. This 32-page booklet introduces and explains the opportunities and advantages of having a bank account and has been written especially for the unbanked sector of the Mexican community.”
Richard Verches, a co-author of the book added that “LEAP and PROFMEX have received unprecedented support from Washington Mutual, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, & Union Bank of California to provide a booklet to each person who receives a matrícula card at Mexican Consulates and who do not have a bank account in the United States.”
Dr. James W. Wilkie, President of PROFMEX and UCLA Professor of History at UCLA added that “the Mexican government is demonstrating its full support to the project with the inclusion of a letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Secretario de Relaciones Exteriores), Dr. Jorge Castañeda, encouraging each recipient to learn about the new opportunities banks are now offering to all Mexican nationals in the U.S.
In April 2002, the matrícula card was upgraded to include a digital picture, a magnetic band to enable the card to be read by authorities, and holographic letters for document authenticity.
The New York Times reported that since November 2001 when the Matrícula Card was first accepted, Mexicans with matrículas had opened bank accounts with an average of $3,000, with over $50,000,000 in deposits.
Honorable Gil Cedillo, California State Senator-elect, who strongly supports this unprecedented initiative, said “reading this guide will help Mexican nationals to better protect their money and I encourage everyone to take full advantage of the new banking services that are now available”. Founded in 2001, LEAP’s top priorities are to assist the Spanish-speaking population in the U.S. by developing educational materials and publications to improve their financial literacy. In October 2001, LEAP published the first comprehensive Spanish-language book on preparing for and paying for college. To date, 150,000 copies have been sold and distributed nationwide. PROFMEX is a 501(c)(3) research organization established in 1982. PROFMEX develops programs and educational publications to further research on and opportunities for Mexicans throughout the world.
Consulado General de Mexico
Agregado de Prensa
Augustine E. Pradillo
Mexican Consulates Office
Valencia, Perez, & Echeveste Public Relations