This story has been translated and edited from its original Spanish version.
Senate Democrats this week introduced a measure that seeks to ensure that federally sponsored agencies do not deny mortgage loans to beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Led by New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, a group of lawmakers, including Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, unveiled the Homeownership for Dreamers Act to prevent agencies including the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac from refusing loans to DREAMers solely based on their immigration status.
A study published in 2018 about the contributions of DREAMers indicated that 14 percent of the participants were able to buy their first home after receiving DACA protections.
“For many young Nevadans, homeownership represents a crucial step in securing their financial futures. 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,” Cortez Masto said in a statement. “I’m proud to co-sponsor legislation that protects Dreamers’ eligibility to buy homes, invest in their futures and pursue the American dream.”
A recent report published by BuzzFeed News revealed that since 2018, the FHA had been advising lenders not to approve these loans. The government has acknowledged it was rejecting requests made by DREAMers for federally backed housing loans, after Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson testified earlier this year before Congress that the government was not doing that.
After becoming aware of the issue in 2018, Cortez Masto and her counterparts, Menendez and Cory Booker, sent a letter to HUD to question their policies. The agency said it had not implemented any changes.
However, in a letter sent last week to California Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar, HUD officials said that since at least 2003 they maintained that non-U.S. citizens without lawful residency do not qualify for FHA loans.
“Accordingly, because DACA does not confer lawful status, DACA recipients remain ineligible for FHA loans,” the agency stated in the letter.
In addition to Menendez and Cortez Masto, the bill is also supported by independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Democratic Sens. Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Ron Wyden, Richard Blumenthal, Tammy Duckworth, Mazie Hirono, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand.
Earlier this month, California Democratic Rep. Juan Vargas also introduced a similar measure in the House.