Credit unions have an opportunity to position themselves as trusted financial partners of the immigrant community. Last month, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This immigration program was created through an executive order from President Obama in June 2012. For the last eight years, the DACA program has helped many immigrants fulfill dreams and achieve success in this country, by providing deportation relief and work authorization. Credit unions were at the forefront of providing financial services to the first DACA beneficiaries. We witnessed credit unions create “Dreamer Loans” to help individuals pay for their legal and immigrant fees. Now that DACA has been given new life, will credit unions rise to the challenge once again to help with the obstacles young immigrants face?
DACA recipients are aware of the vulnerability of the program because it is not a law. The September 2017 decision by the Trump Administration to rescind the DACA program left many young immigrants in a challenging position. After a three-year legal battle between federal courts and the administration, the case was ultimately heard by the Supreme Court. The administration has decided to continue accepting DACA renewals while limiting the term from two years to one. It was also decided that they will not be accepting first-time applications and most advance parole applications. This contradicts the Supreme Court’s ruling and immigrant advocates are planning to challenge their decision.
Terminating the program would negatively impact immigrant families, our healthcare system, essential workers, and the economy as a whole. The Center for American Progress estimated that more than 1.1. million undocumented immigrants met the basic DACA requirements. Roughly 825,000 immigrants have been granted DACA at some point during these eight years, leaving approximately 300,000 young immigrants who would qualify to apply for the first time.
Credit unions play a very important role in the lives of immigrants. From opening accounts and providing services to those who have Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) and alternative forms of identification.
If the administration moves to accept first-time applications, about 300,000 young immigrants will need assistance to pay for their legal and immigration fees. These individuals do not have social security numbers. Here are some steps to take to assist them:
- Ensure your policies are welcoming of individuals with ITINs. A member may be considered an unauthorized immigrant today, but may obtain a legal status later.
- Repackage a personal loan as an immigration loan. This will help your credit union with marketing and awareness among an immigrant population.
- Partner with non-profit and legal service providers to support their efforts to help young immigrants complete their first-time and renewal DACA applications.
- Expand your scholarships to include both undocumented and DACA recipient students, as they cannot access federal aid to pay for higher education.
Credit unions helped DACA recipients back in 2012. Since then, they have built long, lasting relationships and many have even financed their first mortgages with the same credit unions that lent them money for that first-time DACA application. Here is an opportunity to help young immigrants again. Is your credit union ready?