- Eduardo Peña, an Illinois resident who was born in Mexico, alleges in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California that Wells Fargo discriminated against him over his immigration status when he was denied a car loan online in November 2018.
- Michael Litrownik, Peña's attorney with the law firm Outten & Golden, is pursuing class-action status for the claims and is seeking an injunction against the bank and its employees from using status in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program alone to deny services.
- "Denying individuals the right to contract for a loan simply because they are not U.S. citizens is discriminatory under federal law," Litrownik said in a statement. "DACA recipients should be treated fairly and evaluated for credit in the same way as U.S. citizens and permanent residents."
A Wells Fargo loan officer told Peña, a tax manager, he was ineligible because his DACA status would expire before the loan was due, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday. Peña said his status would be renewed, but was told again that his application would be denied. The bank later conducted a thorough credit check and gave Peña a high score, but still rejected him, the suit said. Asked for a written explanation, the bank said it denied the loan because it “couldn’t verify his U.S. residency status,” Litrownik said.
This marks the latest of several discrimination suits against Wells Fargo. A 2017 lawsuit alleging the bank discriminated against "Dreamers" — participants in the DACA program — was dismissed because plaintiffs did not have standing. In 2012, the bank agreed to pay at least $175 million to settle Justice Department claims of home-loan discrimination against black and Latino borrowers in a number of cities. Also in 2012, Wells Fargo settled claims of discrimination against minority and low-income borrowers in Memphis, Tennessee, for $432.5 million, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
About 669,000 migrants have an active DACA status, and renewal was pending for 36,000 more as of April, according to Department of Homeland Security data released in June.
Wells Fargo has not commented to the press regarding this case.
DACA was established in 2012 for undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before age 16, have lived here for at least five years, attended school or served in the military and have no serious criminal records. DACA recipients can obtain renewable two-year reprieves from deportation along with work permits. President Donald Trump is trying to abolish the program. The Supreme Court will hear his case in its next term.