The American dream of home ownership, complete with the white picket fence, is alive and well for those who break our laws and break down our fences to get in.
Last week, The Washington Post published a rosy front-page tale headlined, "Illegal Immigrants Buy Into Homeowning Dream." The article detailed how illegal aliens in the Washington, D.C., area are successfully hooking up with cunning mortgage brokers and complicit lenders to secure home loans. Despite federal laws making it illegal to violate the borders, overstay visas, and recruit, harbor and encourage illegal aliens, the Post notes that the illegal alien home loan schemes are "legal."
Here we are, nearly two years after the September 11 terrorist attacks underscored the need for consistent immigration law enforcement, and the lesson continues to be ignored in the nation's capital.
The Post's heart-warming story began:
"Gerardo Cabrera fell in love with the house immediately. There was the bay window in the living room, the fireplace in the den, and -- most enchanting to a man raised amid the concrete of Mexico City -- the woods in the back yard. And so the auto mechanic and his wife, a secretary, decided to pay $200,000 for their own piece of suburban Gaithersburg, a classic tale of immigrants achieving the American dream. Except for one detail: At the time, they were in the United States illegally."
While law-abiding homebuyers must supply airtight proof of identity, legal residence and a Social Security number to lenders, illegal alien purchasers such as Cabrera (a visa overstayer who recently received a green card) need only supply a "taxpayer identification number" (TIN) issued by the Internal Revenue Service. No criminal background check is required before applying for a TIN, which many banks now accept from illegal alien customers as a primary form of identification.
Cabrera's broker, Alma Preciado of Metropolitan Financial Services in Silver Spring, told the Post that about 10 percent of her mainly Latino clientele qualify for home loans using a TIN instead of a Social Security number.
That's just the tip of the illegal alien homeowners' iceberg. The Post failed to note that Federal Housing Administration-approved loans through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development do not require lenders to obtain proof of citizenship or legal permanent residence. These FHA/HUD programs, primarily targeting minorities and first-time homebuyers, are federally insured and require minimal down payments.
A 25-year veteran of the mortgage industry in California confided to me recently: "It boggles the mind to think how many illegal aliens are homeowners in this country thanks to these programs, all fully insured by our government. Because of fear of lawsuits for discrimination I can also tell you that a lender may have a borrower who speaks little or no English who claims to be either a citizen or resident alien and it will not be questioned nor any proof required. Since FHA does not require any such documentation, a lender cannot cite their regulations as a basis for the request as they can on conventional loans."
Another easy avenue to home ownership is through the use of bogus Social Security cards. Moneylenders have no access to a verification system to check Social Security numbers before approving loans. A Department of Homeland Security investigator informs me that an ongoing federal probe of FHA/HUD-backed loans found that "a staggering number were approved to persons with false Social Security numbers." The Denver metro area alone accounted for 20,000 to 40,000 of the FHA-approved loans for suspected illegal aliens. "Even if a small percentage of the loans were foreclosed, HUD could be bankrupted," the homeland security official said.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. General Accounting Office told me this week that the agency's office of special investigations plans to report on the results of the probe later this fall. But "considering the size of Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston, and other large cities throughout the United States known to be inundated with illegal aliens," says my source, "I don't think the federal government is willing to expose this problem for financial reasons as well as for fear of political repercussions."
America: Still the world's home sweet illegal alien home.