WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Senate’s Housing Subcommittee, led a group of colleagues in introducing the Homeownership for Dreamers Act, which clarifies that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients – also known as Dreamers – cannot be denied mortgage loans back by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) solely because of their immigration status. Congressman Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives; H.R. 3154 passed out of the Committee on Financial Services last week.
"There is no legitimate reason for the Trump Administration to deny FHA-backed mortgages to Dreamers who worked so hard to secure protected status under DACA and who continue to contribute so much to the country they call home,” said Sen. Menendez. “It’s clear that this Administration, hamstrung by federal rulings that have prevented the mass deportation of DACA recipients, is now actively weaponizing the Department of Housing and Urban Development to carry out its bigoted anti-immigrant agenda. The Homeownership for Dreamers Act will prohibit for the federal government from discriminating against DACA recipients when applying for government-backed mortgage loans and in doing so ensure DACA recipients can continue to pursue the American dream of homeownership.”
“For many young Nevadans, homeownership represents a crucial step in securing their financial futures,” said Sen. Cortez Masto. “It’s unacceptable that this Administration continues to target the 13,000 Dreamers in Nevada, and thousands more nationally, by denying them housing loans simply because of their immigration status. I’m proud to cosponsor legislation that protects Dreamers’ eligibility to buy homes, invest in their futures and pursue the American dream.”
"Discriminating against Dreamers is an affront to the values we hold dear in America. These young people, who came to the United States as kids and call this country home, should not be barred from buying a home and pursuing the American dream. This legislation would prevent the Trump Administration from punishing DREAMers and denying them the opportunity to become homeowners," Sen. Booker said.
“Dreamers pay taxes, go to school, serve in the military and contribute to their communities in so many ways,” said Sen. Brown. “This is their home and they have every right to the American dream of homeownership.”
Last week, in a letter to Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) stated that DACA recipients are ineligible for FHA loans, a reversal from previous statements and testimony. HUD’s letter follows months of reporting that HUD instituted a new unofficial policy in which they told lenders to deny mortgage loan applications for borrowers who are DACA recipients. Days after the original report in December 2018, Sens. Menendez, Cortez Masto and Booker sent a letter to HUD questioning the reported changes in their policy, to which HUD responded that the department had not “implemented any policy changes...with respect to FHA eligibility requirements for DACA recipients.”
A recent study of DACA beneficiaries showed many positive effects in the economy, including 14 percent of respondents who were able to purchase their first home after receiving DACA protections and among respondents 25 years and older, this share increased to 20 percent.
The Homeownership for Dreamers Act is supported by the following organizations: UnidosUS, United We Dream, National Fair Housing Alliance, Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA), National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), Mortgage Bankers, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Center for Responsible Lending American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program in New Jersey, and Make the Road NJ.
“It was not enough for Trump when he killed DACA, which protected over 800,000 immigrant youth from deportation and allowed us to work and pursue educational opportunities. Now he’s come after our ability to purchase a home, put a roof over the heads of our families and to establish a foundation for our future,” said Bruna Bouhid-Sollod, DACA recipient and United We Dream Senior Communications Manager. “This is why immigrant youth of United We Dream support affirmative legislation that helps people without hurting people, like Senator Menendez's Homeownership for Dreamers Act that calls for an end to this discriminatory practice and reaffirms what it means to live free and without fear.”
“Homeownership is a cornerstone of the American dream, it is unacceptable that this administration has been unjustly denying FHA loans to DACA recipients because of their status. This administration has time and time again found ways to punish DACA recipients and close the door on them from the opportunities they deserve. The Homeownership for DREAMers Act will ensure that DACA recipients are not discriminated against when pursuing their dream of buying a home and continuing to build their future in this country,” said Itzel Hernandez, DACA recipient and Immigrant Rights Organizer with the American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program in New Jersey.
Sen. Menendez pushed for deportation relief for DREAM Act-eligible youth, leading to President Obama’s historic DACA, announced seven years ago this week. Since the Trump administration ended DACA on September 5, 2017 several lawsuits have been filed against the administration for terminating the program unlawfully. As a result, three nationwide injunctions issued by U.S. district courts — in California, New York, and the District of Columbia — have allowed people who have previously had DACA to renew their deferred action. However, there are still active legal threats to the program, and court rulings in the next months will determine the program’s future.
Joining Senator Menendez in introducing the Homeownership for Dreamers Act are Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Illi.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
The text of the legislation can be downloaded here.