A lawsuit filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) in Los Angeles accuses Wells Fargo of denying student loans to immigrants who are in the country due to a program established by former President Barack Obama, according to the Associated Press.
The students were all a part of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects immigrant youth who came to the United States from deportation. Under the program, participants are given the same rights and assurances as American-born citizens, and are allowed to work and study legally in the US. As of the end of 2016, more than 750,000 immigrants had been approved for DACA.
The lawsuit alleges that while all of the plaintiffs meet the eligibility requirements for a private education loan, including a Social Security number and other forms of necessary identification, Wells Fargo rejected their applications because they were not citizens or permanent residents.
Participants in the DACA program must reapply every two years, and there is concern that President Donald Trump might cancel the program altogether as part of his stricter immigration policies.
In the meantime, the suit requests a court order declaring the policy discriminatory and requiring the lender to grant loans to the DACA participants, as well as monetary damages. One student at UC Riverside said she had to consider dropping out of school because she didn’t have the money to pay for classes. She is now working and using her credit cards to pay for her education.
Wells Fargo said in a statement that it is committed to providing loans to assist both temporary and permanent residents, and was disappointed that the students chose to take legal action instead of contacting the company directly.
Experts admit that banks do have issues in lending to borrowers who are not permanent residents. Many of these institutions have difficulty receiving money from foreign banks.
Image Copyright Mike Mozart.