A new lawsuit filed on Monday accuses Wells Fargo of illegally denying student loans to young immigrants who are protected from deportation and allowed to work under a program created by former President Obama.
In response to the allegations, Wells Fargo stated they were disappointed that the plaintiffs didn’t try to work with the bank prior to the lawsuit.
The suit which was filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California by the Los Angeles-based Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, states that the immigrants are here illegally but have Social Security numbers and documents that meet bank requirements, yet Wells Fargo still denies them loans based on their citizenship status.
These same loans are available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents as stated by the suit.
The plaintiffs want a court order that declares that the policy is discriminatory forcing Wells Fargo to grant the loans to those participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Of course, they are also seeking monetary damages that have yet to be specified.
“Wells Fargo understands the dream of pursuing higher education, and we remain focused on our responsible lending practices to assist temporary and permanent residents and U.S. citizens in obtaining student financing,” the bank remarked in a statement.
However, it is important to understand where the banks are coming from in a situation such as this. You can imagine the difficulty in getting repaid on regular federal student loans let alone ones lent out to borrowers who are immigrants, and not in the country permanently. It also can be difficult to accept payments from foreign banks.
Many fear that President Trump will cancel all the DACA programs permanently in collaboration with his effort to control immigration; making the timing of the suit very interesting.
Tom Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund states, “it’s very important in our view to establishing that there are clear rules against this kind of discrimination, particularly in a time like this.”
Under the DACA program recipients get a social security number which allows them to travel, work, pay taxes, and study for a two-year period of time. As of December 2016, more than 750,000 immigrants have been approved for the program.
Some DACA members have been denied loans by Wells Fargo which is why they brought forth this class-action lawsuit.