DACAs Sue Wells Fargo for Nixing Their Student Loan Applications

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

March 7, 2017
MALDEF, DACAs not satisfied with the good deal illegal immigrants already have.

Recently, a group of deferred action for childhood arrival recipients filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo Bank for denying their student loan applications, allegedly on the basis of their illegal immigrant status. The lawsuit, filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, claimed that since similar loans are available to citizens and legal residents, the rejections were discriminatory.

Cutting to the chase, I have bad news for MALDEF and the plaintiffs. I worked for a major New York bank for two decades, and can confirm that loans of all types are routinely denied day in and day out for an assortment of valid reasons. High on any list as a basis for rejection would be non-citizenship or non-legal permanent resident status. Student loans are dicey enough to begin with; the default rate is above 11 percent. But tag on extending them to students who may be subject to removal if President Trump ends DACA or if they decide to return home voluntarily, and you’ve a particularly high loan risk.

One of the plaintiffs is Mitzie Perez, a 25-year-old Guatemalan national. Wells Fargo would have no chance to recoup its money should Perez return to Guatemala. Perez has been in the United States for two decades, is currently enrolled at UC Riverside, a taxpayer-funded university, and presumably attended a California public school – free to her, but not to the state’s taxpayers. Perez’s education thus far is vastly superior to any she would have received in Guatemala.

Author Helen Raleigh, a Chinese immigrant, wrote an excellent assessment of Perez, her co-plaintiffs and MALDEF that reflects the majority of Americans’ opinions. Ms. Raleigh wrote that since banks operate with depositors’ money, they must be prudent. Moreover, the U.S. is the world’s most generous nation when it comes to reaching out to young illegal immigrants. Hard work, not legal action, should be the path pursued to get what may currently be out of reach.

Ms. Raleigh’s blog appeared in The Federalist, and has this wonderful title: “Rather than Suing Wells Fargo, Illegal Immigrants Should Thank Americans for Funding Their Educations.”


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