Democrats Push to End Banking Bias Against Muslims, Immigrants

Democratic lawmakers in Congress are urging financial regulatory agencies to address banking discrimination against Muslim Americans and immigrants. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ilhan Omar sent a letter to top officials at the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, among other regulatory groups, advocating for measures to prevent de-risking, which financial institutions use to close accounts associated with individuals they consider high risk for suspicious activity.


The lawmakers are calling for the modernization of anti-money laundering and financial crimes compliance obligations in order to ensure equitable banking access for Muslim Americans and immigrant communities. They argue that de-risking practices disproportionately impact Muslim Americans, causing financial institutions to view them as high risk when sending payments abroad or donating to charities and religious institutions. This, in turn, can have detrimental effects on the stability and sustainability of countries that rely on remittances for economic development.

The lawmakers acknowledge some steps taken to address the issue, such as the Treasury Department releasing a strategy on de-risking. However, they believe more can be done to combat discriminatory account closures and restrictions. They have proposed six specific actions for the regulatory groups to take, including issuing a joint statement affirming the importance of financial inclusion in anti-money laundering policy and creating guidelines for financial institutions to follow when closing an account.

Additional Democratic lawmakers, including Sens. Ed. Markey and Bernard Sanders, and several Democratic representatives, have signed onto the letter, effectively amplifying the call for action across Congress. The letter was also addressed to several regulatory agencies, including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Democratic lawmakers are pressing for change to combat banking discrimination against Muslim Americans and immigrants, calling on regulatory agencies to modernize anti-money laundering and financial crimes compliance obligations. They argue that de-risking practices disproportionately affect Muslim Americans and immigrant communities, and they are urging specific actions to address this issue. Additional lawmakers have added their support to the effort, and the push for change continues in Congress.

Written by Staff Reports

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