Pilot Program Funds Mortgage Loans for Illegal Immigrants

AP, Jan. 4

MILWAUKEE—In a pilot program described as the first of its kind, an agency created by the state government is making it easier for illegal immigrants in Wisconsin to obtain mortgage loans.

Immigrants who do not have Social Security numbers—a common requirement for loans—can use an alternative government-issued tax number to get financing for new homes, under the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) program.

Many holders of the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) are living and working illegally in this country, even though they pay taxes.

Some say the Wisconsin program is an example of how groups and companies are starting to recognize the potential market of immigrants. Critics say the program provides a reward for those who are violating immigration laws.

Some banks already issue mortgage loans to illegal immigrants, but WHEDA is believed to be the first and only quasi-government organization to buy such loans from the banks, said Geoff Cooper, director of emerging markets for MGIC Investment Corp., and Gary Acosta, president of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.

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But state Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, is threatening legislative action if WHEDA doesn’t kill the program, which he contends rewards people for breaking the law.

“It is an insult to border guards and immigration officials who are trying to enforce the immigration law,” he said. “It is an insult to people who are waiting patiently to enter the country legally.”

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