HUD to lenders: We are not denying mortgages to DACA Dreamers

The status quo remains, for now

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Housing Administration, Department of Agriculture, and Fannie Mae are not denying mortgages to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, the agencies told HousingWire this week.

That’s in spite of what some in the mortgage industry are claiming the agencies are saying about lending to DACA recipients, also called Dreamers.

Notices appear to be circling online in which lenders are claiming that HUD, the FHA, Fannie Mae, and others have recently made a blanket declaration that DACA recipients are no longer eligible for mortgage approval.

HousingWire investigated these claims, asked the agencies for answers, and the agencies said that no such declaration has been made.

The issue exploded nationally late last year when Buzzfeed News posted a comprehensive follow-up to a story first covered by HousingWire’s own Ask the Underwriter, Dani Hernandez. Back in September, Hernandez wrote that HUD was quietly denying FHA mortgage insurance for DACA recipients.

That led to Buzzfeed picking up the thread and exposing the issue even more, which then led to three prominent Senate Democrats asking whether HUD and the FHA had indeed enacted some kind of policy change surrounding DACA.

Under DACA, people who came to the United States illegally when they were young (typically brought by their parents) are protected from deportation and given a work permit.

Under President Donald Trump, the government tried to end the DACA program, but the program was saved by the courts, although the fight is far from over.

“We are extremely alarmed about recent reports that the Department of Housing and Urban Development has implemented an unofficial policy of denying Federal Housing Administration insured loans to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients,” Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., wrote in their letter to HUD last year. “We are appalled that the Trump Administration would exploit a federal government program to deny Dreamers an opportunity of owning their own home, a cornerstone of the American dream.

As Hernandez previously detailed, DACA recipients were eligible for FHA insurance under certain circumstances, but the Buzzfeed report and Hernandez’s reporting suggested that HUD had made a change to its policies.

But HUD responded to the Democrats’ query, stating that no such changes have been made. And HUD told HousingWire this week that there have been no changes to its policies between the time it responded to the Democrats and now.

To repeat, HUD claims it has made no changes to its standing policies about loans made to Dreamers.

“The Department wants to be very clear that it has not implemented any policy changes during the current Administration, either formal or informal, with respect to FHA eligibility requirements for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients,” HUD said in a letter to Menendez in December. “HUD has longstanding policy regarding eligibility for non-U.S. citizens without lawful residency. Those policies have not been altered.”

According to HUD’s letter, “non-U.S. citizens without lawful residency in the U.S. are not eligible for FHA-insured mortgages.”

But HUD said that there are exceptions, namely:

While it indicates that U.S. citizenship is not required for mortgage eligibility, it also clearly articulates residency requirements for prospective borrowers who are not U.S. citizens. For instance, a prospective borrower with lawful permanent resident alien status may be eligible for FHA-insured financing—the mortgage file “must include evidence of the permanent residency,” which is provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within the Department of Homeland Security.

And according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office of the within the Department of Homeland Security, DACA recipients are still able to renew their grant of deferred action under DACA, although the agency is not accepting new requests.

“Due to federal court orders, USCIS has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA,” USCIS said on its website. “USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. Until further notice, and unless otherwise provided in this guidance, the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017.”

So, things appear to be operating as they did previously, at least according to HUD. To read HUD’s letter to Menendez in full, click here.

As for Fannie Mae, the status quo has not changed there either, despite what some lenders are apparently claiming.

“Fannie Mae’s Selling Guide states that lenders, not Fannie Mae, determine whether an individual is legally present, and decide upon the documentation used to make that determination,” a Fannie Mae spokesperson told HousingWire.

“On the specific subject of DACA, lenders may wish to review applicable judicial decisions to evaluate whether current DACA beneficiaries’ status is consistent with being ‘legally present’ in the United States,” the spokesperson continued. “We have also let lenders know it is their responsibility, as always, to look at the specific circumstances of the individual’s employment to determine whether our continuity of income representation and warranty is met.”

So that’s the party line from both HUD and Fannie Mae. If you’re hearing differently out there in the field, drop us a line.

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