Alabama’s “Papers, Please” Law Gets the Boot

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Photo: KennethLipp (creative commons)

Another nail has been put in the coffin of bigotry in Alabama.  Earlier this week, the draconian anti-immigrant law HB 56, or the “papers, please” law, was essentially gutted thanks to an agreement reached in the case HICA v. Bentley.  Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (¡HICA!), an NCLR Affiliate, was the main plaintiff in the case against the state and has been working tirelessly to put an end to HB 56.

Despite numerous warnings from NCLR and other civil rights groups that the law was unconstitutional, it remained on the books.  ¡HICA! was undeterred and worked with several organizations, including NCLR, to challenge it in the courts.  The agreement reached this week, severely limits the racial profiling portion of the law, which allowed Alabama police officers to request the documentation of anyone they suspected of being unauthorized to be in the United States.

Along with Arizona, South Carolina, and Georgia, Alabama has now had its ugly law eliminated.  Continue reading

Using the Affordable Care Act to Prevent Breast Cancer

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Photo: Tips Times (creative commons)

If you were in the aisle of any grocery store this month, it would have been hard to miss the fact that it was Breast Cancer Awareness month.  This year, as the month draws to a close, there is even more brightness to that lovely hue of pink emanating from yogurt tops and macaroni boxes to be excited about:  new qualified health plans that guarantee health services for breast health and cancer prevention!  The new plans are part of the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period.

From now on, all health insurance plans must cover access to preventive health services recommended by the National Preventive Health Services Task Force, including specified services for women such as to mammograms after the age of 40 and to other diagnostics, genetic screening, and preventive treatment at an earlier age if you are at higher risk of breast cancer because of your health status or family history.  Services must be free to you even if you haven’t met the terms of an insurance plan’s deductible.  Ensuring that financial barriers don’t come between someone’s ability to stay healthy and prevent disease is a vital piece of the Affordable Care Act.  It’s the part of the law that will save all of us money and keep more of us healthier longer.  Continue reading

Send Money Abroad With More Confidence

This is a guest blog post by Zixta Q. Martinez, Associate Director, External Relations, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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Zixta Martinez, Associate Director, External Affaris, CFPB

Do you send money to family, friends or others outside the United States? Now it’s easier to get clear information about costs and exchange rates before you pay, and get answers if something goes wrong.

Consumers send tens of billions of dollars from the United States to foreign countries each year. Not surprisingly, a large share is sent to Latin America and many of the senders are of Hispanic origin. In fact, remittances and other transfers from abroad are so prevalent to Latin America, it is estimated they make up a significant share of the GDP in a number of Latin American countries. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recognizes the importance of the growing Latino population and is committed to addressing concerns unique to the Hispanic community.  Continue reading

New Rules Will Make Money Transfers Abroad Safer

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Source: WIkipedia Commons (image linked to page)

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will begin implementing a new rule that will make it safer and cheaper to send money to loved ones abroad.  Consumers wire billions of dollars to foreign countries every year, but remittance providers can sometimes tack unnecessary, exorbitant costs onto those money transfers.  In 2009 alone, immigrants from Mexico wired almost $23 billion in remittances and spent an estimated $1.5 billion in fees and other costs to perform these transactions.  With the adoption of these new provisions, consumers will finally have the information they need to make good decisions about remittance products and the confidence of knowing that a consumer watchdog is looking after their interests in this market.

The new provisions require that:

  • Financial institutions must provide full disclosure to consumers before accepting payment.
  • Disclosures must include the exchange rate, fees, and the amount of money to be delivered.
  • Proof of payment, along with the date the money will be received, must also be provided to the consumer.
  • Companies providing remittance transfers are responsible for any errors that occur.

NCLR applauds the CFPB for pushing new banking and financial reform efforts that directly help Latinos and other immigrants.  The remittance market is huge but historically has been loosely regulated.  Thankfully, the CFPB has worked collaboratively with groups like NCLR to ensure that our concerns are addressed.  These provisions will help consumers better understand up front what they are paying for, giving them the opportunity to shop for the best deal.  Having worked on this issue for years, NCLR is pleased to see this sensible outcome and will continue working with the CFPB to make sure these new rules work for everyone.