At a time when President Trump is pledging to build a Mexican border wall among other things, a group of immigrants are suing Wells Fargo for denying them student loans despite being protected under a program instituted by former president Barack Obama.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a lawsuit in a Los Angeles court late last month contending Wells Fargo denied students who are part of the DREAMERs program with private student loans. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program enables young immigrants who are not in the U.S. legally (but have social security numbers and other documentation) to borrow money for college.
The lawsuit contends that despite their citizenship status under the program Wells Fargo would not give them student loans. The lawsuit should determine whether Wells Fargo’s policy is discriminatory; additionally, Well Fargo may end up being forced to provide loans to those students under DACA. The lawsuit is also seeking damages, and it is requesting class action status so it can include anyone since 2014 who was denied a loan by Wells Fargo despite meeting Wells Fargo customer identification requirements.
“All students should be treated equally in accessing the loan assistance needed to complete a university education,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president, in a statement when announcing the lawsuit in late January. With educated workers in short supply in the U.S. and California, he would add, “discrimination” that hurts the labor market expansion is “against the public interest” and should be done away with.
The DACA program was implemented by the Obama Administration in 2012 and today roughly 750,000 immigrants are part of the program according to the Pew Research Center. Under the program, eligible immigrants can obtain a work permit, and they are protected from deportation. On top of this, they can also pursue permanent residency or citizenship while working and studying. For the sake of speculation, this program may not last forever under the new administration, but only time will tell its fate.
This isn’t the first time Wells Fargo has been in trouble for its student loan practices. Last September, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined Wells Fargo $3.6 million for a civil penalty and ordered it to pay $410,000 to borrowers who were harmed by illegal student loan servicing practices. The watchdog agency whose days may be numbered under Trump said Wells Fargo raised costs and penalized certain borrowers unfairly.
Author: Andrew Rombach
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