(CAMDEN, N.J.) – A Latino civil rights group is suing a Pennsylvania-based property management company for denying a DACA recipient access to rental units based solely on her immigration status.

MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and Saul Ewing LLP filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of Khrysta De Guzman, a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The suit challenges Altman Management Company LLC and two apartment complexes’ policy of refusing housing to DACA recipients based on immigration status.

“Housing discrimination against DACA recipients is not only irrational, it is unlawful,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel.  “Our economy – and our humanity – are distorted and diminished when we allow such discrimination to occur.”

In 2023, De Guzman and her U.S. citizen fiancé submitted an application to rent from Autumn Ridge Apartments, owned by HP Altman Autumn Ridge LLC and operated by Altman Management Company LLC. A leasing manager at Autumn Ridge Apartment informed Guzman that her application was denied because her government-issued employment authorization card was not sufficient and that they required proof of residency or visa information. De Guzman, 25, then applied to rent an apartment from Inverness Apartments, owned by Inverness Apartments LLC and also operated by Altman Management Company LLC. Again, her application was denied because of immigration status.

“These denials have resulted in another frozen chapter of my life.,” said De Guzman. “Additionally, it serves to remind us DACA holders that we aren't fully accepted by U.S. society. Despite working, paying taxes and contributing to the economy.”

MALDEF attorneys argue that Altman and two apartment complexes’ refusal to consider De Guzman for housing because of DACA is a violation of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1866, as codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1981, which prohibits discrimination based on alienage or lack of U.S. citizenship.

“Landlords cannot penalize renters because of their alienage,” Lozada says. “Defendants’ discriminatory acts adversely affect DACA recipients and immigrants where they can live and work.”

De Guzman arrived in the U.S. as a child and became a DACA recipient in 2016. She currently works as a warehouse associate and attends college. She and her fiancé sought to move to reduce Guzman’s commute time for school.

Altman Management Company LLC is Pennsylvania-based construction company that operates nearly 80 apartment communities in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. MALDEF attorneys are seeking class certification.

Read the complaint HERE.