First Data Immigration Reform panel in Denver (2004)

First Data Corporation, based in the Denver area, hosted a public "immigration reform" forum in Denver on July 22, 2004. This was the fourth such event held in major cities across the country. Although superficially billed as an "immigration reform" panel, the events appear to be targeted marketing events to sell banking and wire transfer services the Hispanic and illegal alien community and to promote open borders legislation.

First Data prevented anyone but open-borders fanatics from formally participating on the forum. Several immigration-reduction advocates and experts contacted First Data and asked to be included on the forum's panel, but they were coldly refused. This so-called "immigration reform" panel was limited exclusively to the usual open-borders immigration radicals and extremists. Fred Elbel, director of Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform stated that inhis opinion, "It was nothing but a racist, open-borders sham, conducted in the name of corporate greed." (See the article Remittances - a Massive Transfer of Wealth, by Fred Elbel in the Spring, 2012 Social Contract.)

Finally, honest contempt! As a concerned citizen wrote to the Denver post: "Finally, a corporate leader has come out in the open with his contempt for our nation and its immigration laws. With chief executives such as Charlie Fote and corporations such as First Data Corp. promoting and abetting illegal immigration, we will not have a cohesive nation for long."

In the audience, an American woman whose lineage dated back to the Pilgrims was brutally beaten by a woman who proclaimed in a Spanish accent, “You should leave! This is for us.” Mike McGarry, of Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform, was told to “Go back to Ireland.” Nevertheless, after vociferously complaining about the forum’s obvious anti-immigration enforcement bias, he was given an impromptu seat on the panel. Not that it changed First Data’s business model.

The event proceeded with numerous comments from the audience and involved a brutal attack on a citizen by an open borders proponent. Audio of the public event is available upon request. At the end of the attack, about 30 people lined up to ask questions of the panelists. Three questions were allowed, but when the moderator determined that these were not open borders-friendly questions, the forum was shut down and no further questions were allowed.

First Data Corporation is the world's largest provider of money transfers. It's estimated that $30 billion annually in remittances are transferred to foreign countries by their nationals, including illegal aliens, living and working in the US. First Data recently made news when it announced it had formed a political action committee to support political candidates whose immigration positions are non-restrictive, and directly oppose immigration reform candidate Tom Tancredo. The company's Colorado offices are in U.S. congressman Tom Tancredo's district, and First Data's chief executive Charlie Fote was openly angry that the Republican congressman suggested the remittances be taxed.

In March, 2004, Charles Fote, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Colorado's First Data Corporation, established the First Data Empowerment Fund. The first three Empowerment advisory board members are Raul Yzaguirre, president, National Council of La Raza; Salvador Gomez, chairman, Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and Robert de Posada, president, Latino Coalition.

It appears that under the guise of "immigration reform" Fote and First Data are conspiring with open-borders advocates to break up America, while First Data reaps the profits.

In March, at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., Fote announced that First Data would establish a: "... $10 million commitment to the communities we serve here and abroad. By creating the First Data Empowerment Fund, we are announcing our intention to act as a long-term and active participant in the dialogue relating to critical issues such as immigration reform and economic empowerment."

Immigration reducationists actually get to speak!

Mike McGarry, of Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform asked from the audience: "Why don't you let the other side speak?" Roberto Ramirez graciously offered Mike his seat for 5 minutes. But after hearing what Mike had to say, he changed his mind. Mike was cut off after two minutes, out of an hour and a half panel discussion. (Time from just after the presentation began: 50:00:00)
Mike McGarry: "I think this panel is racially and ethnically cleansed, it's one side of the issue... and does not represent the immigration perspective of most Americans!" (50:00:00)
Mike McGarry: "This panel is composed along ethnic, racial and class lines and this presentation is a sham."

First Data panelists (2004)

The audience was mostly Hispanic. The high school where the event was held is predominantly Hispanic. One European-American woman was told to her face: "You should leave. This is for us." Mike McGarry, of Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform, was told "Go back to Ireland."
Executive Row. Presumably First Data executives. The empty seat in front was taken by Charlie Fote.
Moderator: Former Congressman Esteban E. Torres on the left; First Data's Charlie Fote at the podium.
As the panelists were introduced, someone in the audience asked "Aren't you going to say the Pledge of Allegiance?" The moderator stuttered and hesitantly agreed.
Introducing the panelists, from left to right: Raul Hinojosa, Lisa Duran, Robert de Posada, Roberto Ramirez, Thomas A. Saenz, Juan Salgado.
First Data's Charlie Fote at the podium.
Thomas A. Saenz: "And we have found such laws - all racial laws - especially [California's] Proposition 187... we challenged that and found it was unconstitutional. (shouting against audience objections) I will not have you or anyone else tear up the Constitution of the United States!"

The panelists

"Immigration: What Reform Will Bring to Our Nation". Panelists include:

Juan Salgado, President of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and Executive Director of the Instituto del Progreso Latino.

Lisa Duran, director of Rights for All People, Denver.

Robert de Posada, Executive Director, The Latino Coalition.

Raúl Hinojosa, Director of Research, North American Integration and Development Center, University of California in Los Angeles.

Roberto Ramírez, Founder, The Jesús Guadalupe Foundation.

Thomas A. Sáenz, Vice President of Litigation, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Moderator: former Congressman Esteban Torres.

At the end of the forum, a reception with traditional Mexican food was offered by First Data to the community.


Ricardo ?, Executive Director of the Colorado Civil Rights Coalition, in introductory speech: The purpose of this session tonight is to talk about immigration reform and anybody that is beginning to sound like a heckler will be asked to leave. (Announcement in English and Spanish: there are headsets that have the announcements translated into English and Spanish).

First Data speaker Fred Neihouse, in introductory speech: "As a company that is headquartered in Colorado, we believe that this is one of our top priorities - to reform the immigration laws of this country."

Salvador Gomez, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, in introductory speech: "We are especially fortunate to have Charlie Foote leading the charge on immigration reform."

First Data Chief Executive Charlie Fote: "Tonight this panel will discuss immigration reform. Over the past year, this issue has become one of the top issues in our company and in the country. First Data and Western Union are calling upon all our leaders in the public and private sectors to get a vigorous, bipartisan debate on immigration reform that achieves three things: First, it fully realizes America's democratic values. Secondly, it recognizes the interdependence of U.S. and foreign economies. And third, it ensures that we do this in a mode that enforces our national security." (Time from just after presentation began: 7:52)

Raul Hinojosa: "There are 10 million illegal aliens in this country who need to come out... in a way that recognizes their incredible contribution to the economy... [We need] The creation of a new system where we are actually bringing in the amount of workers we need into the future... - all workers that come into this country come here on a level playing field with full rights... as they come into the country, they would have total economic rights, including access to a bank and bank accounts. (22:25)

Lisa Duran: "In short, our current policy is based on our national security framework, defined solely through fear, that defines immigration as an enforcement problem of people overstaying visas or crossing the border without permission... immigration policy that ceded to an enforcement approach that results in the criminalization of fundamentally human activities such as working, driving a car and moving to keep families together. The enforcement of American immigration policy is also tied to racist and nativist sentiments. [referring to Colorado's Matricula Consular ban]... the words immigrant and illegal, a complete and fundamental misnomer." (30:00)

Roberto de Posada: "The system is broken itself, we are not protecting U.S. workers or Latino workers... What we need to focus on is to make sure that our enforcement mechanisms are not looking at people who are crossing the border to find a job and to focus our attention on criminals, smugglers, drug runners... We really need to focus on what is good for the country." (39.20)

Roberto Ramirez: "I was undocumented for 13 years... my mother brought us here - all nine children... I have my own business... and my people are honest workers... just an opportunity, that's all we need... and the business sector has to be involved." (44:05)

Thomas A. Saenz: "And we have found such laws - all racial laws - especially [California's] Proposition 187... we challenged that and found it was unconstitutional. (shouting against audience objections) I will not have you or anyone else tear up the Constitution of the United States!" (55:47)
We need to address the presence of large numbers of people who have people who... live in the shadows and do not share the rights of others. We need to have a legalization program to reflect our values, including the centrality of family unification... We need to have national enforcement priorities for immigration systems. Currently in California, thousands and thousands of people live in fear because of widespread Border Patrol sweeps. I believe this kind of enforcement activity is not consistent with our values... I believe it is critical that comprehensive immigration reform includes a national principle of non-discrimination against people on the basis of immigration status." (59:43)

Juan Saldago, in response to a question from the audience to please define illegal alien: "I was taught that this is God's land and no one is illegal on God's land." (1:13:00)

Mike McGarry of Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform (allowed to speak for two minutes, 50 minutes into the event): "I think this panel is racially and ethnically cleansed, it's one side of the issue... and does not represent the immigration perspective of most Americans! This panel is composed along ethnic, racial and class lines and this presentation is a sham." (

The brutal attack at the First Data event (2004)


Members of the audience pull a woman off of a blonde woman who was attacked and is lying on the floor. (Time from just after when the presentation began: 56:28) (Neither the attacker or woman who was attacked were members of Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform).
A Rocky Mountain News article reported: "Julissa Molina, 31, who teaches Hispanics about hepatitis prevention for a local nonprofit organization, allegedly got up and began hitting another woman, Denver police said." (Background info).

Denver police doing their job. (57:00)
This photo was reproduced in the Forbes Magazine article "On the backs of the poor".

Audience member and introductory speaker, after attacker was removed: "Take her out, she's inciting a riot!" (57:13)
Response by Denver Police officer: "This is a public forum, and we're not removing people for speaking. Period. [Referring to the person who was attacked]: She's not causing a riot... she's speaking. This was how the forum was set up, sir, everyone here has a right to speak." (56:27)

Former Senator Polly Baca and (presumed) attorney. Referring to the attacker, not the victim: "I will assure you that she will have adequate representation." (1:24:00)

"I think we all own a great debt of gratitude to Western Union and First Data." (1:27:00)

The following is an excerpt from a letter written by a woman who attended the debate:

I attended the Western Union Sham supposed Forum/Debate on Immigration reform at the North High School Thursday, July 22, 2004, as did one of your reporters. It was no debate.

It was also no forum. It was a complete "give them full amnesty and open the borders" discussion held by the Mexican Consulate in Denver, a UCLA Hispanic Professor, a Rep., two separate former illegal aliens (they said so) from CA and a couple of other Hispanic advocates, all Hispanic.

During the one-sided discussion a (white) lady was physically attacked - and hurt - by a Hispanic woman because the white woman was saying "this is illegal, what about the law?". Following the attack most of the audience cheered, with some saying "You deserve it". Then a Hispanic attorney got up after the Mexican woman was taken away by the police and assured the crowd that she would "take care of the lady and nothing would happen to her", at which point I asked her "You do mean the victim, right?" And she smirked and as she walked past me down the aisle I said, "You aren't referring to defending the attacker are you?" And she just stared at me while the rest of the crowd gave me hate looks and the she headed on out.

The entire give-them-amnesty panel said things like, "No one is illegal in Gods eyes", "I am from a family with 9 children and my mom brought me here illegally after my father was murdered in Mexico but I got my Green Card 13 years ago," and "Without 'immigrants' this country would financially fall apart."

No one from Denver, such as Former Gov. Lamm and Congressman Tancredo who oppose amnesty were invited on the panel. They cut off the audiences' questions at about 3-4 people, although 20 times that many were waiting in line to ask questions on the sham "open public forum" discussion. We have a serious problem here today.

First Data / Western Union Sued for Immigration Forum Assault

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - October 20, 2004

News release from

DENVER: A woman assaulted by a Mexican national at a Denver pro-immigration forum sponsored by First Data/Western Union filed a civil lawsuit today in Denver District Court. The lawsuit suit includes claims for ethnic intimidation, civil conspiracy, assault and battery, robbery, personal injury, and property damage against Colorado-based First Data Corporation, its subsidiary Western Union, the First Data/Western Union Foundation, the attacker and her former employer, Hep C Connection.

The plaintiff, Terry Graham, was challenging the forum's panelists from the audience when she was attacked and brutally assaulted by Julissa Molina-Soto, 32, an immigrants' rights activist.

Denver attorney Robert Corry, who is representing Graham, said, "No person in the United States of America should fear violent retaliation for exercising her First Amendment rights to speak out and participate in an open community forum. The sponsors of this forum, First Data Corporation and Western Union, had a duty and obligation to provide adequate security at the event, a responsibility they utterly failed to satisfy."

The forum was held on July 22 at Denver's North High School. The school was recently the focus of a national controversy for displaying the Mexican flag in its classrooms.

Denver police at the event arrested Molina-Soto and charged her with assault. She was released within minutes after the intervention of Mexican General Consul Juan Marcos Gutierrez and other Latino leaders, according to reports published in La Voz Nueva, a bilingual newspaper.

As paramedics attended to Graham following the assault, Polly Baca -- a Director of First Data/Western Union Foundation and head of Denver nonprofit LARASA ("The Race") -- and ACLU lawyer Adrienne Benavidez assured the largely Latino audience from the podium that Molina-Soto would have legal representation.

Molina-Soto is scheduled to appear on October 26 in Denver County Court on the assault charges. Jeff Joseph, head of the Colorado Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), is representing Molina-Soto in the criminal case.

Molina-Soto and her two children entered the U.S. nine years ago. A Mexican citizen, she reportedly has permanent resident alien status. She has held various jobs involving healthcare rights for legal and illegal Latino immigrants.

Baca's organization, LARASA, and Molina-Soto, who until recently was multicultural outreach coordinator for Denver's Hep C Connection, jointly ran a Latino outreach campaign on Hepatitis C in 2003. Benavidez, head of Denver's nonprofit Color of Justice, has long been a critic of the Denver Police Department's treatment of minorities. Benavidez headed Denver's Public Safety Review Commission, reviewing citizen complaints against police officers, for five years during which time the Police Protective Association accused her of bias. Former Police Chief Tom Sanchez protested the PSRC's "witch-hunt atmosphere" under her leadership. A vocal opponent of Denver's Columbus Day celebration, Benavidez also sits on the Board of Directors of Servicios de la Raza ("Services For The Race").

According to the First Data/Western Union Foundation website ( LARASA, Services de la Raza, and Hep C Connection have all received Foundation grants since 2001.

Molina-Soto's attorney, Jeff Joseph, debated Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo in February on the topic of immigration stating that "[The] enforcement policy of immigration is not in line with reality." Joseph also criticized President Bush's controversial immigrant amnesty proposal, saying it did not give incentives for illegal aliens to register and become legal US residents.

First Data Corporation has taken the lead in promoting massive immigration and immigrants' rights -- including illegal aliens -- since settling lawsuits charging that its subsidiary, Western Union, failed to disclose unreasonably high commissions it charged when wiring customers' money to Mexico.

In March, First Data/Western Union set up a $10 million "Empowerment Fund" to be used for Latino and pro-immigration causes. Raul Yzaguirre, president of the National Council of La Raza ("The Race"); Sal Gomez, Chairman the Denver Hispanic Chamber Gomez; and Robert de Posada, President of the Latino Coalition, were appointed by First Data to the Fund's Advisory Board. The Empowerment Fund is separate and in addition to charitable donations totaling about $5.5 million that First Data made as part of settlements of the class-action lawsuits.

Since March, First Data/Western Union has sponsored immigration panels across the nation. FIrst Data ignored complaints made prior to the Denver forum that participants did not represent both sides of the issue. Panelists at the Denver forum included Thomas Saenz of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF); Lisa Duran of Derechos Por Todos (*"Rights For Everyone"); Juan Salgado, President of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Robert de Posada of The Latino Coalition; Raul Hinosa, UCLA's North American Integration and Development Center; and Roberto Ramirez, Founder of the Jesus Guadalupe Foundation. Some individuals had complained to First Data prior to the Denver panel that it was skewed and did not represent both sides of the issue.

First Data CEO Charles Fote announced in April that $800,000 of the Empowerment Fund would be used to create a Denver pilot program to support and increase the number of Latino business owners.

First Data remittances articles and more information

It's all about the money. Rest assured that First Data's "immigration reform" panels are an attempt to market Western Union's wire transfer services to the illegal alien community.

"Remittances - a Massive Transfer of Wealth", by Fred Elbel, the Social Contract, Spring, 2012

"First Data’s Polly Baca: Conquistadora Chicana-ry", by Terry Graham [alleged victim of attack at First Data's July 22 event], November 17, 2004

"On the backs of the poor" by Seth Lubove, Forbes Magazine, November 15, 2004

First Data has tried to counter the criticism by forming a $10 million "Empowerment Fund" for immigrants and staging immigration "reform" panels around the country. But the sessions have emboldened the company's critics and sparked a melee or two. At the panel in July in Denver, a woman was arrested after pummeling an anti-immigration heckler...

"Patriot Act cuts migrants' cash flow" by Patricio G. Bolona, Datona Beach News-Journal Online, November 07, 2004

Western Union, a check-cashing store that offers money-wiring services, was fined $8 million by the New York Banking Department in December 2002 for violating federal and state banking laws. The state charged Western Union was deficient in keeping records.

"First Data Western Union helps Mexican mothers" First Data press release

The First Data Western Union Foundation (FDWU) announced last week a new program to provide educational and financial assistance to Mexican mothers living alone in the state of Oaxaca.... FDWU will send $250,000 to Fundacion AYU, a Mexican nonprofit organization, to provide assistance to women living alone because their husbands are working in the United States....

"Attend First Data’s Meetings–Put Shoe On Other Fote!", by Joe Guzzardi, August 4, 2004, published on

"Western DisUnion: CEO Charlie Fote Betrays America", by Joe Guzzardi, July 28, 2004, published on

"First Data/Western Union and Latino Advocacy Organizations Call For Action on Immigration Reform", First Data press release, March 3, 2004.

"Sending Dollars to Latin America - Wiring money home - cheaply - Credit unions cut costs for immigrants [illegal aliens]", San Francisco Chronicle, July 24, 2001.

See this map of remittances to Latin America.

"Educator allegedly hits heckler", The Rocky Mountain News, July 24, 2004.

"Woman Arrested For Hitting Heckler At Immigration Forum - Forum Sponsored By First Data Corp.", Denver's 7 ABC News, The Associated Press, July 23, 2004.

"Heckling, fist fight mar forum on immigration", the Denver Post, July 23, 2004.

"First Data reports big profit jump", the Denver Post, June 21, 2004.

"Border skirmish - Rep. Tancredo's proposals for immigrant remittances draw First Data Corp. into public policy debate", the Denver Post, June 27, 2004.