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Financial services and the Mexican immigrant; Q&A with Ann Baddour and Rebecca Lightsey



Meeting in the Mainstream - Banking & Community Perspectives - Issue 1 2004 - Dallas Fed MMeeeett iinngg iinn tthhee MM aa ii nn ss tt rr ee aa mm 2004, ISSUE 1 The Mexican-immigrant population in Texas has grown significantly in the past decade—107 percent, according to the 2000 census. Mexican immigrants come to the United States seeking decent wages for hard work and a better life. These workers send much of what they make back to Mexico, fulfilling a commitment to financially support fami- lies at home. In 2003, the U.S. population of Mexican immigrants sent back more than $13 billion—a 35 percent increase over 2002. It is estimated that less than 50 per- cent of Mexican immigrants have rela- tionships with traditional financial insti- tutions. This is partly attributable to their experience with an unstable peso, a cultural preference for cash and a belief that banks are for the wealthy. Texas financial institutions have a tremendous opportunity to move the unbanked Mexican-immigrant commu- nity into the financial mainstream. Two nonprofit organizations, Texas Appleseed and Community Resource Group, are working on the issue of finan- cial access for Mexican immigrants. Both organizations are concerned that most of these immigrants do not use the basic services banks and credit unions offer, choosing instead alternative finan- cial service providers and cash-based transactions. To see how well the products and services of Texas financial institutions meet the needs of Mexican immigrants, Texas Appleseed and Community Resource Group surveyed 33 institu- tions in the state between October 2003 and January 2004. Eight multistate banks, 15 Texas banks and 10 credit unions were surveyed. The resulting report, Meeting the Financial Service Needs of Mexican Immigrants: A Sur- vey of Texas Financial Institutions, was released earlier this year. Perspectives rece

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