western union

Western Union

They aren't about telegrams anymore. They've stopped sending telegrams in order to focus on money transfers, particularly through remittances: the money that U.S. residents send back to their home countries. A large share of remittances are sent by illegal aliens and thus the more illegal immigration (or immigration in general), the more money Western Union makes. Because of that, Western Union strongly supports at least mass immigration if not explicitly supporting illegal immigration.

See 2004's "The Fastest Way To [profit from illegal immigration]" for an introduction, and note that even biased illegal immigration supporters like the Arizona Republic and the New York Times have come close to doing exposes on Western Union's borderline activities.

Western Union was formerly part of the First Data Corporation, but was spun-off into an independent company on October 2, 2006 ( link).

Last modified Feb 21, 2011
Discussed in (click each link for the full post):

NYT almost follows the money on Western Union (U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Ken Salazar) - 11/24/07

Jason DeParle of the New York Times almost follows the money on Western Union, a company that makes almost a billion dollars per year off legal and illegal immigrants sending money home ("remittances"): link

First Data Immigration Reform panel - 10/03/07

First Data Corporation - the current or former parent company of Western Union - conducted several immigration "reform" panels around the country in 2004. The [[July 22, 2004]] version was held in Denver and is described here.

That page describes how a fight broke out, which appears to have been initiated by an illegal immigration supporter.

And:

Letter: last 100 conservatives who support Senate amnesty bill must band together! - 06/05/07

A group of about 30 conservatives have sent an open letter to the rest demanding that they band together and support the Bush/Kennedy/Kyl massive illegal alien amnesty bill. The letter itself is full of half-truths, such as their claim that "it will make sure that the law is enforced first, before any other provisions of the legislation take effect".

Rights group sues Ariz. to stop wire transfer seizures - 10/19/06

Capitol Media Services/Howard Fischer/[[October 19, 2006]]/ link

An immigrant rights group wants a federal judge to block Arizona from using a tactic Attorney General Terry Goddard says is necessary to block human- and drug-smuggling rings.

Legal papers filed in U.S. District Court contend warrants issued by Goddard's office to seize wire transfers of $500 or more violate federal constitutional requirements that government must have probable cause before taking the money.

ICIRR in suit against Terry Goddard over Western Union wire transfers - 10/19/06

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights ("ICIRR") is "sponsoring" a class action lawsuit against Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard over that state's program that tries to stop human smuggling by seizing Western Union wire transfers that meet certain criteria. ICIRR is "sponsoring" three nobody plaintiffs - at least one of whom is a legal resident - who had money seized and couldn't get it back because they couldn't prove that the transfers were legitimate. The attorney is Matt Piers; another attorney who may have just filed the papers is Tim Eckstein (azstar).

As detailed at the first link, ICIRR was one of the organizers of the big March 10 Chicago illegal immigration rally as well as of the one on May 1. And, after the first rally, their president Juan Salgado spoke at Los Pinos, the Mexican White House. They were also involved in the smear against Jim Oberweis. Salgado was also appointed to a state commission by Chicago governor Rod Blagojevich. Another group involved in the suit is the Instituto del Progreso Latino, whose Executive Director is Juan Salgado.

But, wait, there's more:

[ICIRR Executive Director Josh] Hoyt acknowledged his organization has received grants in the past from Western Union, and confirmed that some of the information for the lawsuit came from the company. But he said the interest of his group is solely to protect the rights of individuals.

It's like a giant spider's web of sleaze, isn't it? From this:

...Goddard said the company also sent letters to clients, asking those who had funds seized to contact Instituto del Progreso Latino... "They solicited people" for the federal lawsuit, Goddard said. "It's Western Union trying to protect their profits." ...Sherry Johnson, corporate director of media relations for Western Union, said in an e-mail that "while we do have a long-standing relationship with this group, I can assure you that this is a completely independent action by the ICIRR."

As for the POV of "our" representatives, State Rep. Steve Gallardo - naturally a Democrat - nuances his way into supporting illegal immigration (azstar):

"We should not just be using the $500 threshold," he said, but instead require proof of some sort of pattern or other evidence of criminal activity... Goddard said the state provides that proof to the judge who issues each of the damming warrants... Gallardo also said the state's offer to refund funds improperly taken is insufficient because it requires people to go to a government office to prove their ownership in order to get their money back... "That's intimidating for those folks who perhaps may be here undocumented," he said, and simply want to send money home to relatives.

As for Matt Piers, he appears to be a civil rights-style attorney from Chicago. In 2000 or so he was on the other side: suing money transfer companies over hidden fees. He defended the Benevolence International Foundation on a terrorism-related charge. Daniel Drezner appeared on a TV show with him in relation to that. He was involved in another terrorism-related case in the late 90s (ncarl.org/newsletter2004.html). And, in 2001 he was apparently planning to sue both the U.S. and Mexico over monies due Bracero Program workers that had disappeared.

On a slightly related note, see "Maricopa County Attorney: Mexico trying to block Arizona law".

Jill Capuzzo/NYT: corruption, illegal activity are good for Riverside, New Jersey - 07/27/06

Jill Capuzzo of the New York Times offers a ludicrously transparent article in support of illegal immigration: "Town Battling Illegal Immigration Is Emptier Now".

Don't you feel sad and all just by reading the headline? It continues. The lesson the NYT wants you to learn is that the best way for Riverside NJ to prosper is just to give a wink and a nod to illegal immigration. If they don't, cue the tumbleweeds.

Arizona Republic almost does expose on Western Union - 03/19/06

Chris Hawley of the AZ Republic offers the somewhat surprising article "Wire firm a force in debate over immigration".

It's surprising because in a rare move for the AZ Republic it comes close to reporting the actual truth. They come close to implying that Western Union and their parent company First Data are profiting off illegal immigration, are encouraging illegal immigration, and are corrupting our political system.
...In recent years, Denver-based First Data has openly campaigned for immigration reform, which could legalize millions of undocumented workers, and has created a $10 million "Empowerment Fund" for the same purpose.

It has held seminars on migration law, published how-to guides for migrants, sponsored English classes, given money to a charity that helps Mexican women whose husbands are in the United States, and showered immigrant-sending communities with aid.

First Data has stepped up its political donations in recent years. It also "directly, actively" fought against Arizona's Proposition 200, a First Data official told the Mexican Senate in 2004.

...Those migrants send a torrent of money to their families. Mexicans in the United States alone sent home some $20 billion in 2005, up from $6.6 billion just five years ago.

The increase has been a windfall for wire-transfer companies. Western Union, which also owns the Vigo and Orlandi Valuta chains, saw its revenue nearly double from $2.3 billion in 2000 to $4.2 billion in 2005. It made $1.3 billion in profit last year.

"Their real key to success is the immigration from Third World to Second World and First World countries. That is the ultimate secret sauce," said Kartik Mehta, an analyst with FTN Midwest Securities.

...The company also sponsored the printing of 300,000 guides telling Salvadorans how to apply for the U.S. Temporary Protected Status program. The program gave legal residency to 248,000 migrants following two earthquakes in El Salvador in 2001.

In 2000 the company formed the First Data Western Union Foundation, which is funded by First Data, its employees and its agents in other countries.

The foundation has given out more than $16 million, funding everything from seminars on home buying for migrants in Broward County, Fla. to English classes at the Chicago and San Antonio campuses of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

It gives money to a legal aid groups and organizations like the Massachusetts-based Immigrant Learning Center, which along with running English classes, produces studies "promoting immigrants as assets to America," according to one of its reports.

...Furthermore, some of the foundation's programs almost seem to reward migration, say some border-control advocates.

In the Mexican state of Oaxaca, the foundation gave $250,000 "to provide assistance to women living alone because their husbands are working in the United States," according to a foundation news release...

It also has pledged $1.25 million to the Mexican government's 4x1 Program in Zacatecas state. The program provides matching funds for each peso that migrants invest in small businesses in their hometowns...

Another foundation-funded program helps Mexican migrants go to U.S. universities "because they don't have the documents necessary to go to a college and pay tuition as international students," First Data's public relations director Mario Hernandez said during a forum in the Mexican Senate on Nov. 10, 2004.

The foundation made headlines by funding a 56-page booklet for migrants called "A Survival Guide for Newcomers to Colorado."

..."They're promoting whatever is going to enhance their bottom line, and if that means encouraging mass immigration, that's what they're going to do," said Mike McGarry, acting director of the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform, which has opposed First Data's advocacy efforts in its home state.

...During a panel discussion organized by the company at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., First Data's then-chief executive, Charlie Fote, announced the creation of a $10 million "Empowerment Fund" to push for an overhaul of U.S. immigration laws, though he gave few details of how the money would be used.

...Since then, First Data has held panel discussions around the country to campaign for immigration reform. The company also said it used its money to fight Arizona's Proposition 200, a measure passed in 2004 that bars illegal immigrants from receiving some state services.

"Our company directly, actively and with financial support, supported the business, political and community groups that opposed this proposition," Hernandez, the public relations director, told lawmakers during the 2004 forum at the Mexican Senate.

First Data also has stepped up its campaign donations. The company has spent $247,000 on federal elections since 2001, compared to $145,000 in the five years before that, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

A political action committee, First Data Employees for Responsible Government, has donated $128,000 since it was formed in 2000. And that's not counting hefty donations by individual executives. Fote and his wife, for example, gave $46,800 to 32 federal candidates between the beginning of 2000 and Fote's retirement in November.

Most of First Data's beneficiaries are members of the Senate and House committees on banking and financial services. Much of the money also has gone directly to the Republican and Democratic parties in the form of "soft money" donations.

Left out of the largesse: Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo, one of the most vocal immigration-control activists, who also happens to be First Data's hometown congressman. First Data, its PAC and many of its executives gave money to Joanna Conti, his Democratic opponent, in the 2004 election.

It is unclear if the $10 million Empowerment Fund has gone into campaign donations. First Data would not give The Republic details on how that money is being spent...
In brief: First Data not only profits off illegal immigration, they encourage massive immigration. I'll leave it to the reader to determine whether what they do qualifies as encouraging illegal immigration. However, note that Proposition 200 was designed to fight illegal immigration, and First Data opposed it.

And, they then donate part of the money they've obtained from those engaging in illegal activity to politicians, including Democrats like Conti.

More on Raul Hinojosa of UCLA - 07/15/05

Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda is an associate professor of political economy at the University of California at Los Angeles, and the MSM frequently turns to him for a "Latino" viewpoint. For instance from 2001:
-- IMMIGRATION: The recently released UCLA study on the economic impact of the broad legalization of undocumented Mexican immigrants working in the United States is reported in today's Agence France-Presse, Copley News Service and Associated Press. Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, director of UCLA's North American Integration and Development Center and author of the study, is quoted in each article.
AP: "Study favors legalization of undocumented workers"
AFP: "Legalizing undocumented workers has economic benefits for US"
CNS: "Legalization of immigrants could help economy, study says"
Unfortunately, none of those appear to be available online. And, Hinojosa was mentioned in Business Week's story about corporations profiting off illegal immigration:
[Hinojosa's startup No Borders Inc.] offers debit-like cards on which immigrants can store cash, send money home, pay for video teleconferencing calls, and join medical discount plans. Going head-to-head with First Data Corp.'s Western Union Financial Services and other wire transfer services, No Borders plans to open 150 storefronts from Los Angeles to Georgia by September.
So, the author of an academic study favoring legalizing illegal aliens is profiting off illegal immigration. That sure gives me a great deal of confidence in his research.

But, wait, there's more. Hinojosa was also on the one-sided panel at First Data's "immigration reform" confab where a fight broke out (see "The Denver Post's sloppy journalism" for recent news about that incident).

And, there's even more! He's also the brother of CNN correspondent Maria Hinojosa, who brought us the documentary "Immigrant Nation - Divided Country".

Isn't it interesting how all these supporters of massive illegal immigration are interlinked?

The Denver Post's sloppy journalism - 07/10/05

Last year a fight broke out during a one-sided immigration forum in Colorado. An anti-illegal immigration activist had attended the meeting and spoke out against the biased panel and the various statements they made. A pro-illegal immigration activist reportedly told her to shut up, and it degenerated into fisticuffs and torn clothing. The pro-illegal immigration activist, Julissa Molina-Soto, was arrested, tried, and eventually found not guilty. However, the other participant, Terry Graham, has brought a civil suit against her and the company that sponsored the forum. A description and pictures of the fight are here, the forum is described here>, Graham's site is here, and see this description of Polly Baca, one of Molina-Soto's defenders.

The sponsor of the forum was First Data, the parent company of Western Union. WU makes a handsome profit off sending remittances to Mexico. They've also created a $10 million Empowerment Fund to support "Latino" causes. And, they also oppose Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) because of his opposition to illegal immigration.

With that out of the way, the Denver Post offers a profile of Molina-Soto entitled "Clash, acquittal stoke advocate's political fire". Suffice it to say that the profile practically elevates her to sainthood. And, it includes the following:

"I want justice and I did not get it in the criminal case," Graham said. She is soliciting funds on a website she runs to pay for her case against Soto. The website for the Stormfront White Nationalist Community also carries a solicitation for Graham.

I've seen some sleazy, pro-illegal immigration statements in news rags, but that ranks right up there. Does the Denver Post have any evidence that Graham is associated with the latter group, posted the solicitation, or even knows that it exists? I used google to search both sites. While I found at least one posting at the group's site asking people to send her money, I didn't find anything at Graham's site that would indicate a link from her to them.

Does the Denver Post know the definition of "yellow journalism" or of "guilt by association?" It barely needs mentioning that no responsible, professional editor should have let that one through.

Note that the article also seems to have a factual error, claiming that Graham was a member of the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform. Yet, that group says: "Neither the attacker or woman who was attacked were members of Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform".

And, note that the Denver Post article is about someone whose race seems to rule everything she does. And, it was written by someone who is presumably of the same race as the subject. And, as described here, many of those who Molina-Soto associates with seem to be obsessed with their race.

This sleazy rag even has an ethics policy:

A strong sense of fair play must imbue our writing, accurately reflecting motives of sources. The tone and language of stories must be even-handed and avoid loaded phrasing.

Contact their editor, Gregory Moore, at gmoore *at* denverpost.com or (303) 820-1400 and suggest they read through their own policy a few times.

Tying up the loose ends on Colorado's guide for the illegal alien - 02/09/05

Colorado recently removed from its website a guide that gives tips for illegal aliens living in Colorado. Those involved in producing the guide included, to varying degrees: the Mexican government, the Colorado Department of Education, Colorado Gov. Owens, various "immigrant's rights" groups, and First Data/Western Union.

Rep. Tom Tancredo complained about the guide and caused it to be removed from Colorado's site. This, of course, caused the other side to fire up their race-baiting and strike back. From a group called ProgressNow (link):

Colorado Department of Education Vice-Chairman asks:
Does Gov. Owens Support Rep. Tancredo's anti-immigration/anti-Bush policy?

The same week that Rep. Tom Tancredo took his anti-immigration pledge on the road to New Hampshire, Governor Owens played lackey to Rep. Tom Tancredo, jumping to action when Rep. Tancredo demanded that a guide for immigrants be taken off the Colorado Department of Education's website. The Congressman demanded, and Gov. Owens did as he was told...

Coloradans, including Jared Polis, Vice-Chairman of the Colorado State Board of Education found the Governor's action unwarranted. "Governor Owens' action furthering Congressman Tancredo's far right agenda was completely inappropriate," stated Polis. "Tancredo's hateful venom is now affecting his Republican colleagues," Polis added.

Michael Huttner, Executive Director of ProgressNow.Org , said because of the Governor's actions concerning the website, Owens needs to clarify his stand: "Does Governor Bill Owens join Rep. Tancredo in his extremist views on closing American borders and using the military to enforce that closure? Does Gov. Owens support Rep. Tancredo's racist, anti-immigrant agenda? Does Gov. Owens really believe that Latino and other immigrants are 'coming across our borders to kill you and your children.'" [Footnote 2]...

...ProgressNow.Org Executive Director Michael Huttner calls for the Governor and the rest of Colorado Republicans to make their positions clear: Either they disavow Tancredo and what the Wall Street Journal Editorial board called his "exploit[ation of] the terror attacks to advance [his] anti-immigration agenda...." [Footnote 3] or their silence stands as tacit approval of Tancredo's extremist views...

Footnotes:
2: Tancredo quoted in the Atlanta Journal Constitution 2/03/04
3: Wall Street Journal Editorial 3/18/02

First, let's put Tancredo's statement from Footnote 2 into its proper context:

Paper: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
Title: Panelists denounce illegal immigrants
Author: RICK BADIE
Date: February 3, 2004
Section: Gwinnett
Page: JJ2

..."If Republicans don't do something about the border, Republicans can't say we're doing all we can to protect you," U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo told a standing-room-only audience at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Atlanta.

"They are looking for jobs, yes, but there are people coming into this country to kill you and your children. Maintaining the borders are essential to our survival."

Tancredo, a Colorado Republican, joined U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal of Gainesville and Rick Oltman, a field representative for the Federation for American Immigration Reform to talk about illegal immigration before about 300 people...

Obviously, his full quote shouldn't be shocking to anyone with any sense. Given ProgressNow's baseless smears and selective quoting, is there any reason to believe anything this organization says?

And, why would a supposedly "progressive" organization be on the same side of as issue as the Wall Street Journal, a paper that wants open borders in order to keep the price of labor as low as possible? The Wall Street Journal's goals certainly seem closer to feudalism than "progress." However, they and ProgressNow do share something in common: yellow journalism.

To tie all of this together, Colorado's guide for illegal aliens was produced by the Colorado State Board of Education, of which Jared Polis is the Vice-Chairman. Jared Polis is an internet m/billionaire who founded ProFlowers.com and BlueMountain.com, two sites that you might want to avoid. (Assuming pending further information that he's still involved with them). Polis apparently spent a great deal of money to gain his seat, and is trying to bring others with him.

For more information on him, see Polis's Eminem Fan Letter Embarrasses Democrats and Millionaires' Initiatives Fall With A Thud

There's apparently some connection between Polis, Huttner ("Executive Director of ProgressNow.Org"), and the Rocky Mountain Progressive Network. Polis appears to be a contributor to ProgressNow.org.

So, it all kind of ties together nicely, doesn't it?

This isn't the first time that Tancredo has come under attack from these people or their associates. See Tancredo now in cross hairs of attack ads

Thankfully, as can be seen above, showing the readers of ProgressNow that they're being misled should be particularly easy, akin to excercising with half-pound weights. They don't seem to have many facts on their side and are forced to simply call names.

As of now ProgressNow.org's blog accepts comments, so please visit their site and reacquaint their readers with the truth.

UPDATE:
From this blurb:

Lawyer-about- town and political pundit Mike Huttner has a new gig.

He's left Foster, Graham, Huttner and Calisher, the law firm he helped form. Now he's running ProgressNow.org (formerly the Rocky Mountain Progressive Network), whose mission statement "is to be a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems."

Huttner, who's been a bachelor forever (just ask his mom, Diane Huttner) also is getting married to Debbie Herz, a New York City attorney, and moving to Boulder.

From the longer article "It's Not Easy Being Green":

...To gain a larger national presence, its name has been changed [from the RMPN] to Progressnow.org; it's hired the technophile behind Howard Dean's much-lauded Internet campaign to launch the new electronic crusade; and executive director (and former Westword intern) Michael Huttner ditched his law firm to run the organization full-time. But the biggest change was moving into the network's new digs on the second floor of the Alliance Center, a hugely ambitious project in LoDo that will soon house 23 progressive-leaning nonprofits.

The $5.25 million center is operated under the umbrella of the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, a nonprofit founded last year by John Powers. As a longtime boardmember of the Colorado Environmental Coalition...

...he took the first step by purchasing the historic Otero building, at 1536 Wynkoop Street, from the Tattered Cover Book Store and the Wynkoop Brewing Co.; half a dozen nonprofits had already set up shop there. That's not surprising, because the building was part of a project developed by Mayor John Hickenlooper and Tattered Cover owner Joyce Meskis...

[tenants include] Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, Colorado Common Cause, Historic Denver, the Center for Native Ecosystems and the Latina Initiative...

"The Fastest Way To [profit from illegal immigration]" - 07/24/04

FirstData is the parent company of Western Union, and they're now a major processor of credit card transactions in addition to their original business of money transfer.

As described here (rmpn . org/weblog/archives/permalink/002096.cfm), they've also decided to attempt to unseat U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (house . gov/tancredo/Immigration), who represents the district in Colorado where their headquarters are based.