Western Union was the first U.S. telegraph giant, but airmail and faxes left telegrams obsolete, and the company entered bankruptcy in 1992. Just 15 years later, the company now earns nearly $1 billion a year by catering its services to the needs of immigrants, legal and illegal.
Western Union executives once tried to oust Congressman Tom Tancredo because of his push for tougher immigration laws. Tancredo, now running for president, says “Western Union wants to encourage illegal immigration in order to expand the number of people in its market,” adding “Believe me, if I were president, I would ask the Justice Department to look into it.”
The company says it does not know what share of its customers are illegal immigrants, but when an overflowing federal detention center in Texas bused detainees to a homeless shelter, the company sponsored a lunch there, dispensing T-shirts, bandannas and fliers in Spanish with the company’s toll-free telephone number. Studies of money transfer services show that at least 40 percent of customers are Hispanics living in the U.S. illegally.
Western Union made substantial donations to groups seeking last spring’s failed effort for “comprehensive” immigration reform, which would have offered amnesty to illegals. Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, says “Western Union has decided that its business model depends on a continuing flow of illegal immigrants.”