Tags: One | Reporter's | Opinion | Homes | for | Illegal | Aliens

One Reporter's Opinion – Homes for Illegal Aliens

Thursday, 11 August 2005 12:00 AM

Enter the lending institutions, eager to grant loans to illegal aliens who meet their meager requirements: They can prove they have been in the country, worked and paid taxes for at least two years.

Nearly a decade ago, the IRS began giving out individual tax identification numbers (ITINs) so that people without Social Security numbers could pay taxes. They know that illegal immigrants are using the numbers to get mortgages. A spokesperson says, "We don't have control over whatever the taxpayers do with the numbers other than filing a tax return."

So now hundreds of illegal aliens in Texas and parts of the Midwest are buying homes using special lending programs that bypass the need for a Social Security number.

The home loan door is open. Real estate agents are taking advantage of a huge untapped market. And mortgage lenders are designing programs aimed at illegal aliens.

To top it off, one of the nation's chief banking regulators, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, is encouraging banks to reach out to the Hispanic population (documented and undocumented). Banks discovered that loan programs based on the ITINs is one way to do that.

Despite their illegal status, buyers are getting home loans. But, you say, these illegals have no right to own property in the U.S. because they have no right to be here in the first place. Shocking as it may seem, the lending institutions are increasingly willing - even eager - to grant loans to illegals if they meet those few requirements (they can show they've been in the country, worked and paid taxes for two years).

Some banks are reluctant to lend money to illegals, fearing they could be deported and therefore default on their mortgages. But many banks, unbelievably, are willing to take this risk.

Recently, State Senator Glenn Grothman, R-Wis., introduced a bill reining in the lending programs that cater to illegals. Grothman says it's wrong for the government to set up a program specifically designed to benefit people who have chosen to ignore immigration laws.

With the backing of some of the country's largest financial institutions, this effort to tap customers for the real estate market is moving to the nation's largest concentration of illegal immigrants. It is not uncommon to have an agent show up at an illegal's door and ask: "Do you want a house? Do you work and pay taxes but don't have a Social Security number?" Then the agent hands the illegal a flyer, written in Spanish and tailored to his potential customer. It reads: "WE CAN HELP YOU LEGALLY."

For years, qualifying for a mortgage required a Social Security number; the only way for an illegal to get a mortgage would be to use a false number. But our greedy moneylenders have a powerful incentive in finding ways to get around those barriers.

The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals estimates that more than 216,000 illegals could buy homes if they had better access to the market. A representative of the association says: "These gainfully employed people have been stuffing money in the mattress for a long time. They have been working and saving and raising their kids and going about their lives and they want to achieve the next step. Now the lenders have helped them find the way."

The procedures we have discussed are happening in several states: Illinois, Wisconsin and Texas, and are now spreading to California. One bank deeply involved in these proceedings is the Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati. A spokesperson for the bank says, "We recognize this as a business opportunity and we are appealing to a market that is growing dramatically." So now the bank is reaching out to customers through churches and community organizations.

One of the bank's customers recently bought a three-bedroom home and offered his comment: "I feel like I deserve to have a house because I do what everybody else does. Sure, I'm an illegal. I install dry walling for a living. I pay my taxes. If loans are available, why shouldn't I take advantage of them?"

Citibank, the largest financial institution in the world, is a cofounder of a Latino real estate group. A spokesman says they are interested in the business opportunity; they think it is the right thing to do, but they are not interested in getting involved in the public debate that is taking place right now.

You couldn't do this in Mexico; an American can't even own property in Mexico! They have stringent rules about property ownership. Yet look at what we do: "Y'all come! Get a piece of America!"

What we are recognizing, as first stated, is institutionalizing illegality, with no distinction between those who follow the rules and those who break our laws. And this with the help of our own trusted banking institutions.

Greed is going to kill us all in the end.




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Enter the lending institutions, eager to grant loans to illegal aliens who meet their meager requirements: They can prove they have been in the country, worked and paid taxes for at least two years. Nearly a decade ago, the IRS began giving out individual tax...
Thursday, 11 August 2005 12:00 AM
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