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CA Immigrant Groups Call For Western Union Boycott

October 19, 2007

Oakland, CA - Starting today, Northern California immigrant and community organizations are launching a nationwide boycott against Western Union. Viviana Rennella with the Transnational Institute for Grassroots Research and Action (TIGRA) says many immigrants send as much as 30 percent of their wages back home, and Western Union is charging them outrageous fees to do it.

"That is unconscionable to us, the fact that Western Union and many companies are making incredible profit off the poor of the world."

Rennella says the transfer fees to wire funds can be as high as $50. TIGRA is also urging Western Union to reinvest in immigrant communities and establish fair exchange rates, and organizing a rally in Oakland that includes a march to a nearby Western Union office. Western Union defends its fee structure, which the company says is based on logistics and potential risk.

Rennella says many immigrants rely on companies like Western Union to send money to their families. Last year, migrants sent $260 million around the world.

"Many leave their families behind in order to be able to make a living to support them. So, the money transfer industry is a vital link between migrants, and the families and communities they have left behind."

To learn more, visit

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - CA