Lawsuit claiming Wells Fargo illegally denied loans to DACA beneficiaries can go forward, court says

A U.S. District Court judge ruled Thursday, Aug. 3, that a lawsuit claiming Wells Fargo illegally denied loans to young immigrants with temporary legal status can go forward.

UC Riverside 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, or MALDEF.

Judge Maxine M. Chesney of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled late Thursday that the plaintiffs can pursue their claims against Wells Fargo under a federal law that prohibits discrimination against aliens and under a California law that prohibits discrimination based on immigration status, according to a statement from MALDEF

Perez, the suit’s lead plaintiff, is part of former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, commonly known as DACA. The program was enacted in 2012 by an executive order.

It allows people who arrived in the United States before age 16, and who meet certain other criteria, to defer deportation. They are granted Social Security numbers and can get work permits, continue their education and apply for permission to travel in and out of the country.

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.”

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.