In June 2009 the board of ACORN International following a meeting in Santiago, Dominican Republic, and representing all of the federated countries of the organization called for a global effort to engage financial institutions and money transfer companies in order to win fair pricing for transfers of funds from migrant workers and immigrant families in North America to their families in their home countries in Latin America, India, Africa, and Asia. In actions in the summer of 2009 members in Tijuana, Buenos Aires, Delhi, Mumbai, Lima, and Toronto all took action on various banking institutions to present these demands.
To date the only positive response, though not completely satisfactory, was from Scotiabank in reaction to the efforts of ACORN Canada as part of this campaign. They agreed to lower the remittance charges and clarify other policies in line with ACORN International’s recommended “best practices.” Most of the other institutions ignored the demands and continued, and in some cases accelerated, their predatory practices. The federated board meeting in Lima, Peru in the spring of 2010 renewed their commitment to redouble the organizations efforts to bring the fight for remittance justice more aggressively in all of our countries.
To this end over the last six months of 2010 a team of researchers from Toronto, Baltimore, Vancouver, and Little Rock as well, as from all of the federated countries within ACORN International, has been assembled composed of activists, student interns, and retired academics and organizers. In a global release in early December ACORN International share the results of its “comparison shopping” both from sending countries in Canada and the United States as well as receiving countries where ACORN International is organizing. The results will speak loudly for themselves, but show a stark pattern of predatory pricing on both ends of the exchange that has been tragically ignored by regulators of financial practices on either the domestic side or internationally, leaving migrant and immigrant families little choice but to pay the piper even when it means seeing such vital resources skimmed of 20 to 30% off the top before being available to desperate families.
ACORN International is embarking on a full-scale campaign demanding that remittance based costs be reduced to reasonable levels reflecting the real investments in technology and security. Currently, many institutions are ripping off immigrant and migrant families simply because they can get away with it. We are demanding that a stop be put to such practices and reforms be implemented immediately.
This a an estimated $300 Billion market, but too much of the money is being diverted from productive uses to pad the balance sheets of rich institutions rather than being allowed to build citizen wealth and income security with families and even national economies dependent on these resources. As more details of ACORN International’s Remittance Justice Campaign are made public, we will be demanding direct meetings with these institutions in order to demand change and reforms.