The Biden administration has warned U.S. banks and other financial institutions that they can’t reject illegal immigrants’ credit applications based solely or predominantly on their immigration status.
The two agencies stated that they were issuing the warning “because consumers have reported being rejected for credit cards as well as for auto, student, personal and equipment loans because of their immigration status, even when they have strong credit histories and ties to the United States and are otherwise qualified to receive the loans.”
Specifically, the agencies cited the provisions of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), which protects credit applicants from discrimination based on such characteristics as race, religion, sexual orientation, and national origin.
The agencies argue that protections afforded by ECOA and other laws extend to alienage, so banks that have blanket policies to deny loans to illegal immigrants may be breaking the law.
“Lenders should not deny people the opportunity to take out a loan to buy a home, build their businesses or otherwise pursue their financial goals because of unlawful bias and without regard to their actual ability to repay,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement.