Financial Inclusion for Immigrant Consumers: NYC Roundtable
We were home in NYC for the second leg of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions’ nationwide effort to promote financial inclusion for immigrants. Seventy attendees gathered at the Catholic Charities International Center on February 12, 2015 for another historic roundtable. More than 40 credit unions, banks, nonprofit organizations, foundations, government agencies and community advocates came together for a day of conversation, sharing lessons learned, best practices and ways to leverage partnerships that offer immigrants the best combination of financial products and services. With passionate opening remarks delivered by Monsignor Sullivan, the roundtable was officially underway. New York City is the largest hub of immigrants among major US cities—more than 3 million immigrants call New York City their home, comprising over 10% of the City’s workforce. Of the 5 million immigrants living in New York State, an estimated 873,000 are undocumented, and of those that are undocumented, 258,000 reside with US-born children, a key focus of Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA).
The keynote speaker of the roundtable was Ambassador Sandra Fuentes-Berain of the Consul General of Mexico in New York, who provided substantive background about the demography of Mexican immigrants residing in New York State. Ambassador Fuentes-Berain mentioned that approximately two-thirds of all Mexican immigrants in the US will be eligible for DAPA or the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Although Mexican immigrants in the tri-state area are relatively new and often come from three of the most impoverished states in Mexico, Ambassador Fuentes-Berain was also quick to point out the high rates of labor force participation and business ownerships among this population. In fact, she further mentioned that the Mexican consulate is frequently asked about how to start a business in the US and has rolled out a ‘consulate on wheels’ in response to the growing need for financial education and tax preparation services, an area where credit unions can play a critical role. The panels were broken up into three parts with the first focusing on governmental responses exchanged on a variety of topics from establishing proof of income for lending to immigrants to the documents that are required for Customer Identification Program (CIP) compliance. Questions relating to compliance and how to collaborate with nonprofits that provide vital legal and social services to immigrant clients were among the most commonly asked. A theme we heard in Los Angeles was also repeated in New York: organizations cannot pick and choose what aspects of an immigrant’s needs to address, but must adopt a holistic approach. Immigration status does not define the sum total of an immigrant’s financial needs. As we look ahead to Dallas for the Federation’s next roundtable on March 19, a holistic approach will be our focus as we continue to engage with community partners to discuss the best mix of products and services to meet immigrants’ needs.
Click here for the day’s program and list of speakers.