WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released new rules that drastically expand the criteria that determines whether an immigrant is likely to become a “public charge” and therefore be denied a green card or legal status in the United States. Among the new policy’s provisions, DHS is now requiring immigrants to provide their credit score and credit report.
Center for Responsible Lending and Self-Help Co-founder and CEO Martin Eakes released the following statement on behalf of Self-Help Federal Credit Union, Self-Help Credit Union, and the Center for the Responsible Lending:
CRL and Self-Help strongly oppose using an individual’s credit scores and credit history as a metric to determine a person’s immigration status. The “public charge” rule is punitive to immigrant families and will contribute to poverty and hardship rather than provide a path to citizenship. Credit scores are designed to predict if a borrower is likely to become 90 days late on a credit obligation. This information is irrelevant in determining a person’s likelihood of becoming dependent on public assistance. Moreover, for any consumer who is new to credit, credit scores fail to reflect the ability to pay a debt. Since the United States’ credit scoring system is unique, there is no way of evaluating the likelihood of delinquency in credit for recent immigrants.
Using credit history and credit scores will also have a disparate impact on immigrants of color. These scores are a result from centuries of discrimination in housing, education, and employment. The public charge rule will exacerbate racism and discrimination in an already tense political climate we are facing.