SAN FRANCISCO – Wells Fargo believes it will be vindicated in the end, according to a bank representative.

“The court’s decision to allow the lawsuit to proceed, while disappointing, in no way suggests that the claims ultimately will prevail and we are prepared to defend our record as a responsible lender,” Jason Vasquez, a Wells Fargo spokesman, said in an email to the Northern California Record of the bank's allegation that federal law allows for differentiation in regards to certain immigrants.

Mitzie Perez, et al., v. Wells Fargo Bank, which recently moved forward to trial under the rule of Northern District of California Judge Maxine M. Chesney, derives from University of California Riverside undergraduate Mitzie Perez, a deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) recipient with a social security number, being denied a loan by Wells Fargo for disclosing she was not a U.S. citizen on her application.

University of California at Davis dean Kevin Johnson told the Northern California Record the court was trying to sensibly and reasonably interpret how the two statutes worked together. “She found that the civil rights statutes applied as well as the federal statute generally regulated lending,” he said of Chesney’s choice to move the case forward.

Author of "Immigration Law and the US-Mexico Border" and "How Did You Get to Be Mexican? A White/Brown Man's Search for Identity," Johnson said non-citizens in the U.S. have the same legal protections as other residents. When asked if Wells Fargo fairly rejected the claimants loan application, he said he “does not know enough about the facts of the case and believe the facts should come out in the discovery process.”

Vasquez noted that in the ruling “not all the claims were allowed to move forward,” specifically pointing out wording that states “order granting in part and denying in part defendant’s motion to dismiss.”

Johnson said DACA recipients are entitled to live and work in the United States and cannot see any legal basis for denying them student loans so long as they are otherwise eligible.

The suit that has stemmed from Perez, who is represented by Outten & Golden LLP, seeks class action status, according to the firm’s news release, noting the charge will “include all persons in the United States since 2013 who were denied the right to contract for credit by Wells Fargo because they were not U.S. citizens despite satisfying federal compliance measures.”

When asked if the lawsuit is especially important in light of President Trump’s recent stance on immigration, Johnson said, “We have a large immigrant population in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of young immigrants received relief under the DACA program. They are authorized to work. What the rights of non-citizens living in the United States are is important as a matter of justice and equality ‘under the law.” 

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