A UC Riverside student sued Wells Fargo in federal court Monday, saying the bank illegally denied loans to young immigrants who have temporary legal status under an Obama-era program.
UCR student Mitzie Perez sought a student loan through Wells Fargo’s website and was denied because she acknowledged that she’s not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, according to the suit filed by the Los Angeles-based Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Perez, the suit’s lead plaintiff, is part of former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, commonly called DACA. The program was enacted in 2012 by an executive order.
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Perez had the necessary documentation to meet bank requirements, the suit said. The suit was filed on behalf of Perez and “all others similarly situated.”
“We need to bring this to light and hear from Wells Fargo – why they’re denying DACA recipients from student loans when all we want to do is continue our education,” said Perez, 25, of San Dimas.
“I’m at the point of maybe having to drop out of school because I can’t afford it,” added Perez, a third-year student majoring in gender and sexuality studies.
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The lawsuit contends Wells Fargo violated federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination based on immigration status. The suit seeks class-action status on behalf of other DACA beneficiaries who have been denied loans by Wells Fargo. It also seeks unspecified monetary damages.
The lawsuit was filed at the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California and comes amid concerns that the DACA program will be ended by President Donald Trump, who signed executive orders last week that toughen federal immigration laws.
“All students should be treated equally in accessing the loan assistance needed to complete a university education,” said Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, in a statement.