from immigrants here in the U.S., a 24% increase from 2003. The latest estimates show that this year those "remittances" as they call them, are expected to top Mexico's oil industry as the number one form of revenue for the country. This is all being fascilitated by bank in the United States that refuse to enforce laws on the books regarding reporting criminal and illegal transactions and instead would sell out our country for a dollar.
The Mexican citizens cross our border illegally. Some of them find work, and many of them send their earnings back to Mexico. Those earnings have added up to nearly $17 billion in the past year. Remittances, as they're called, are expected to become Mexico's primary source of income this year, surpassing the amount of money that Mexico makes on oil exports for the first time ever.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Trade deficit with Mexico for the last year surpassed $45 billion.
Hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens are using bank accounts in this country to send those remittances home, and many U.S. banks are now aggressively helping illegal aliens open those accounts. Those banks refer to the practice in the political correct vernacular as banking the unbanked.
Christine Romans has the story. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wells Fargo is opening 700 new accounts every day for illegal aliens. Since November 2001, it's helped more than half a million people to, as it says, come out from the shadows.
LILIANA SALAS-GRIP, WELLS FARGO: We are not if the business of immigration. We don't question any customer, Latin, American, or any other customer that comes into our financial institution in their legal or illegal status.
And our responsibility as a financial services company is to make sure that all our products and services are available for all customers that come in.
ROMANS: It began with Wells Fargo working closely with the Mexican government. But now almost 200 U.S. banks accept the Mexican I.D. card, the matricula consular, as I.D.
MATT HAYES, FRIENDS OF IMMIGRATION LAW ENFORCEMENT: On the one hand you have the Border Patrol, whose job it is to intercept illegal aliens as they enter the country. And on the other hand you have the Treasury Department, which is encouraging exactly those illegal aliens if they're able to evade the Border Patrol, to open a bank account once they're here.
ROMANS: Indeed, a senior official said, "It is the policy of the United States that we want people in the formal financial system. It is good for the economy and good for our ability to enforce our laws."
But it is clear the U.S. government is, in fact, making it easier to break U.S. immigration laws. Despite the protests of the IRS and anti-terrorism agencies, the Department of Treasury last year allowed banks to accept the matricula consular and to use tax I.D. numbers to open accounts for illegal aliens.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is encouraging banks to sign up illegal aliens in the banking system, calling the growth of the market "a compelling incentive for U.S. banks to enter this largely untapped market." And the FDIC program demonstrates that unbanked Latin American immigrants can be brought into the financial mainstream.
But there are clear laws on the books for the integrity of the immigration system. United States criminal code, "It is a crime punishable by 10 years in jail for aiding and abetting someone in this country illegally for commercial gain." And the Bank Secrecy Act of 1972 makes it clear banks must know their customer, and any illegal activity must be reported to the government.
Banks and federal regulators all say enforcing immigration laws not their problem. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it focusing on networks smuggling illegal aliens, not the aliens themselves.
ROMANS: So once an illegal alien is in this country, it's now the policy of the U.S. government to get them integrated into legitimate daily life. Terrorism experts say it's not safe. Legal immigrants say it's just not fair.
DOBBS: And it's utter madness. I mean, this is Orwellian, the suggestion by the FDIC that this is tapping into a market that's important and describing this as -- I mean, this is incomprehensible, Christine.
ROMANS: And every one of these agencies says, "We recognize the fact that the laws are important, but it's not our job. We are just dealing with reality."
DOBBS: The fact that the spokeswoman for Wells Fargo could -- and we should not just simply say -- this is about 200 U.S. banks -- saying that it's not their jobs to enforce immigration laws or to follow other laws, the 9/11 Commission recommendation on identification, the FBI saying clearly, unequivocally that the matricula consular should not be accepted, nor should tax I.D. numbers be accepted as identification. And the banker has the temerity to say it's not their job to be good corporate citizens, not to exercise corporate responsibility, it's just their job to grow the business?
ROMANS: And the Treasury Department says it's very important that the banks take responsibility for knowing who their customer is and they're going to trust the banks that they do.
DOBBS: It sort of leaves one wondering what in the world are we thinking about in this country. Christine, thank you. Christine Romans.
I'm starting to wonder if any of the recommendations from the 9/11 commission regarding immigration and identification are going to be implemented. Time and time again, from border patrol recommendations to identification requirements, they are being ignored. It's only a matter of time before this will bite us in the ass.