Senators Target Big Banks Denying Services to Federal Contractors Working with ICE

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
February 14, 2020Updated: February 14, 2020

A group of senators led by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has announced plans to introduce legislation that would target major banks that deny services to federal contractors working with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

Titled the Financial Defense of Industrial Contractors (FDIC) Act (pdf), Sens. Rubio, Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in a Feb. 13 news release they hope the legislation would combat “political discrimination” allegedly committed by six big U.S. banks against federal contractors.

The banks which the legislation targets—Wells Fargo, JP Morgan, Bank of America, BNP Paribas, Barclays, and SunTrust—have said they will no longer provide depository services to federal contractors that work with ICE, citing their opposition to immigration law in the United States. They control over $7 trillion in assets combined.

The FDIC Act will remove the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insurance of major banks with assets over $50 billion if they withhold services to federal contractors.

“Some of our nation’s largest banks have decided to cater to the radical left’s ‘woke’ agenda by abusing their systemic influence in our economy to deprive law-abiding federal contractors of banking services critical to their business,” Rubio said in a statement. “Banks have a right to deny funds to certain businesses, but they shouldn’t enjoy taxpayer-provided guarantees if they are undermining the public policy of the United States.”

Cruz, meanwhile, said in a statement that it is “deeply concerning” to see the largest banks in the United States “caving to the radical left’s social agenda.”

“Banks should be making decisions that are based on research and facts, not political pressure. I support our ICE agents and the contractors who work for them. They are risking their lives every day to keep this country safe. They deserve better.”

Major banks in the United States which violate the standards of the legislation will be subject to an FDIC board hearing and a transition phase of up to two years to terminate the insurance.

“The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency employs contractors to help enforce the immigration laws that keep Americans safe,” Cotton said. “By denying critical financial services to ICE contractors, big banks have hobbled ICE’s efforts to protect Americans. These banks shouldn’t receive public funding if they’re putting the public at risk.”

Blackburn added that he thinks it is “disgraceful” for big banks executives to sacrifice the nation’s safety for the sake of their political interests.

The Epoch Times reached out to the banks targeted by the legislation for comment, but both JP Morgan and Bank of America declined to comment.