An undocumented student in California is suing Wells Fargo for illegally denying loans to young immigrants who are protected from deportation and allowed to study in the U.S. under a program imposed by Obama.
The banking giant is being sued by Mitzie Perez, 25, a junior at the University of California, Riverside because she was denied a student loan.
The lawsuit was filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California by the Los Angeles-based Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
The College Fix reports that Perez filled out an online application last summer and indicated that she was “neither a U.S. citizen nor a permanent resident.”
After submitting her application, Perez was redirected to a page that read: “Thank you for your interest in a Wells Fargo student loan. However, based on information you provided, we do not have a student loan option that meets your needs. This could be due to the school you selected, your field of study, and/or your citizenship status.”
Perez reportedly went back and changed her status to “permanent resident alien,” by which she was provided several student loan options.
The lawsuit claims that loans are made available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
It has also been reported that Perez is seeking monetary damages and a court order forcing Wells Fargo to grant loans to young immigrants who are part of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
In 2012, former President Obama created DACA to provide temporary protection for young immigrants under the age of 16 who were brought to the U.S. by their parents and who live in the U.S. illegally.
A BuzzFeed article states:
Thomas Saenz, the president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, told BuzzFeed News that California state law forbids businesses from discriminating based on immigration status, and federal law prohibits discrimination between citizens and aliens when making contracts.
“It would be fair to deny someone if the applicant were a credit risk,” he said. “In this case they just flat out disqualify you if you aren’t a citizen or permanent resident.” …
Young immigrants enrolled in are assigned a Social Security number, which allows them to work, study, travel and pay taxes. But Wells Fargo did not consider this identifying information, nor the fact that Perez’ had a US citizen willing to co-sign a loan with her. It simply flashed a red light once it saw her immigration status, Saenz said.
“There are no questions about income or assets or how long they’ve been employed or any of the questions a bank would ask a loan recipient,” he said. “They’re just out.”
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