San Jose, CA – A Latino civil rights organization is suing a national credit union for unlawfully denying a car loan to a DACA recipient based on her immigration status, according to a federal lawsuit filed today.

MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) filed the lawsuit on behalf of Yuliana Camacho, a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), who was told by Chicago-based Alliant Credit Union that she was ineligible for a car loan because she is a DACA recipient.

“There is really no excuse for someone doing business in California not to recognize the clear legal obligation not to discriminate on the basis of immigration status,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel.  “Alliant must be held to account for its failure to comply with state anti-discrimination law.”

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, challenges Alliant’s refusal to consider Camacho’s application for a loan because she is a DACA recipient as a violation of federal law and of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on immigration status. The suit also claims that Alliant violated Section 1981 of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1866, which prohibits discrimination based on alienage.

Camacho, 27, a resident of Salinas, applied online to Alliant for a loan to purchase a Tesla in October 2021. Her husband, a U.S. citizen, was a co-signer. Alliant pre-approved the loan but requested that Camacho supply proof that she was a visa-holder, permanent resident, or a naturalized citizen. When Camacho replied that she was a DACA recipient, Alliant refused the loan, telling her that the company does not “lend on DACA status.”

Camacho also received a written notice from Alliant that showed her application was denied solely based on her “residency status.”

“I couldn’t fathom the idea that I was denied solely on my immigration status,” said Camacho. “It is unfair and disappointing to see that institutions like Alliant are still preventing DACA recipients from getting loans. I hope to bring awareness to this issue that many DACA recipients, like myself, struggle with. I am just trying to own my dream car like any other hard-working American.”

“We continue to see immigrants unjustly denied for the same banking products available to other Americans, and we continue bringing these cases to ensure that financial institutions alter their policies to comply with the law,” said MALDEF attorney Deylin Thrift-Viveros. “Not only are these policies illegal, they have the effect of driving this often-vulnerable population to predatory lending businesses, just to acquire something as basic as an auto loan.”

Read the complaint HERE.