(Buzzfeed) A UC Riverside student is accusing Wells Fargo of illegally denying private bank loans to young undocumented immigrants due to their citizenship status.
Mitzie Perez, a third-year undergraduate student in UC Riverside, is enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a program enacted by the Obama administration that lets some young undocumented immigrants remain in the US to study and work.
When Perez attempted to apply for a student loan with Wells Fargo last August, the online application system required her to enter her citizenship status, according to the lawsuit filed at a federal court in San Francisco on Monday.
She checked a box that she was neither a U.S. citizen nor a permanent resident and was sent 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 tried again, changing her citizenship status response to “I am a permanent
resident alien,” and was sent to a page with information about a student loan option, the suit alleges.
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.”
“We are disappointed they filed a lawsuit rather than work with us on solutions to help people realize their goals of higher education,” Jason Vasquez, a Wells Fargo spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News in statement….