Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) joined colleagues in sending a letter to the Administration requesting an urgent meeting to develop an emergency plan to discuss Somali remittances. Merchants Bank of California is the largest financial institution that handles the majority of money transfers from the U.S. to Somalia. Last Friday, it notified all Money Transfer Operators (MTO) that it will be closing their accounts today, Friday, February 6th. As a result, Somali-Americans in Washington State will be unable to send money to their family members in Somalia.
“I have heard from many of my constituents, and I understand that remittances are a large part of the Somali economy. These funds help many families pay for the essentials, like food and medicine. We need to ensure that residents of the 9th District and Somali-Americans everywhere can continue to send money back to their families in Somalia. I will continue to fight for policies that do so. “
Congressman Smith has cosponsored legislation and spoke with multiple government officials in attempts to find ways to continue U.S. remittances to Somalia. Additionally, Rep. Smith has hosted community meetings with constituents, money transfer operators, and banks to identify and discuss the challenges and opportunities regarding this issue.