The Janesville Gazette
>Pilot program funds mortgage loans for illegal immigrants
>(Published Tuesday, January 4, 2005 09:56:44 AM CST)
>By Xiao Zhang/Associated Press
>MILWAUKEE - In a pilot program described as the first of its kind, an
>agency created by the state government is making it easier for illegal
>immigrants in Wisconsin to obtain mortgage loans.
>Immigrants who do not have Social Security numbers - a common
>for loans - can use an alternative government-issued tax number to get
>financing for new homes, under the Wisconsin Housing and Economic
>Development Authority (WHEDA) program.
>Many holders of the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
>living and working illegally in this country, even though they pay
>Some say the Wisconsin program is an example of how groups and
>are starting to recognize the potential market of immigrants. Critics
>the program provides a reward for those who are violating immigration
>Some banks already issue mortgage loans to illegal immigrants, but
>believed to be the first and only quasi-government organization to buy
>loans from the banks, said Geoff Cooper, director of emerging markets
>MGIC Investment Corp., and Gary Acosta, president of the National
>Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.
>"Anyone will tell you the real growth in home ownership in the state,
>the country, is in the minorities and immigrant market," said Antonio
>Riley, executive director of WHEDA, a public corporation created by
>Wisconsin Legislature in 1972.
>The agency, which funded more than 4,000 home mortgages last year,
>underwrote 87 mortgage loans to ITIN holders since the program started
>April. Six banks in Milwaukee and Madison participate in it, and the
>authority has talked about expanding it to Racine, WHEDA spokesman Ron
>But state Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, is threatening legislative
>action if WHEDA doesn't kill the program, which he contends rewards
>for breaking the law.
>"It is an insult to border guards and immigration officials who are
>to enforce the immigration law," he said. "It is an insult to people
>are waiting patiently to enter the country legally."
>Financial experts say WHEDA's program was simply a reaction to the
>country's changing demographics. Estimates of illegal immigrants in
>country range from 10 million to 12 million, Acosta said.
>"If this becomes a standard in the industry it could have a
>multibillion-dollar positive impact on the economy," he said.
>Some private banks already write mortgage loans and open bank accounts
>ITIN holders. MGIC, a Milwaukee-based issuer of private mortgage
>started insuring ITIN loans last fall.
>Using the tax numbers allows banks to know the true identities of
>immigrants, who might otherwise go to predatory lenders or use false
>Security numbers to get mortgage loans, MGIC's Cooper said.
>ITIN was created in 1997 for the Internal Revenue Service for foreign
>citizens who needed to pay taxes in the United States but could not
>Social Security numbers. The government has issued about 7 million
>of last year, the IRS said.
>ITIN gained currency in the financial market after banks realized the
>potential of the immigrant market.
>About 70 percent of immigrants from Latin America are "unbanked," said
>Michael Frias, community affairs officer at the Federal Deposit
>Even the Patriot Act, created to fight terrorism after the Sept. 11,
>attacks, acknowledged ITIN is an acceptable form of identification for
>banks, said Frias, who spearheaded a Midwest task force to extend
>services to immigrants.
>Milwaukee's Mitchell Bank was among the first in the nation to have an
>loan program. The bank on Mitchell Street served European immigrants
>neighborhood in the early 1900s. As years went by, Hispanics replaced
>Germans and Poles, said James P. Maloney, the bank's president and
>"As the neighborhood changed, we ultimately decided we had to change
>move," he said.
>The bank now hires Hispanic employees, has all documents in Spanish
>authorized to help immigrants obtain ITINs. It created credit history
>immigrants who often don't have any by examining their utility bills,
>payments and the money they send home. The ITIN loans performed better
>conventional loans, Maloney said.
>The home ownership rate on Milwaukee's largely Hispanic South Side is
>than 20 percent, and the immigrant market is "more than we could ever
>handle," Maloney said.
>But the bank has limited capacity for ITIN loans, because companies
>usually buy mortgage loans from banks refuse to underwrite these
>saying they are too risky, Maloney said. The WHEDA program fills that
>"It's very forward thinking on their part," he said. "They couldn't be
>doing anything better for our neighborhood."
>But Acosta said unless the major players enter the market, the WHEDA
>program will have minimum impact on the industry.
>"Unless Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA (Federal Housing
>start doing this type of loans, it's only going to have a marginal
>+++ the end / el fin / tamat +++
>National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
>310 8th Street STE 303
>Oakland, CA 94607
>Tel (510) 465-1984 ext. 305
>Fax (510) 465-1885
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The news is to be reported not to sway opinion. No more melodrama of constant entertainment trivia on news time. The founding fathers knew that government is always corrupt, that is why they gave us civil liberties. The people must lead to survive corrupt governments. Read the constitution. (In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this includes information for research and educational purposes.) Al Soto (c) 2004
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