Michael, I listened to your show today; I am just becoming a regular so [I] don’t know your background with your obviously regular “conspiracy theory” caller who claimed that some number of foreclosures were of homes owned by illegals. Of course, the use of the term “conspiracy theorist” connotes the intended criticism that the person has beliefs which are not supported by facts or that the ideas expressed are irrational or have no logical basis. I am unaware of the ideas asserted by this person over time, so perhaps some of them are really wacko, but on this one, there is a reasonable basis for a closer look.
Since you had a question about the caller’s assertion that mortgages have been granted to illegal immigrants without social security numbers, I did a quick Google of the terms “illegal immigrant mortgage” and found mainstream media articles reporting this alleged phenomenon from as early as 2005. However, the most recent response from HUD denies the accuracy of the numbers that some are reporting of how many mortgages have been granted to those with only ITIN’s (Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers), which allow those without SS numbers to be in the system with this alternate ID. (http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2008/10/06/daily54.html)
But I note that HUD’s response simply focuses on the accuracy of the total reported number of such alleged mortgages, and is not a denial of the alleged existence of these mortgages. From the Phoenix Business Journal article: “A HUD spokesman said Thursday his agency has no data showing the number of illegal immigrants holding foreclosed or bad mortgages.” So, HUD has no data to prove such foreclosures exist, nor data to prove that none of the foreclosures were owned by illegals.
Actually my neighbor here in Aspen was recently deported as an illegal immigrant but owned his home in the affordable housing system. He was a hard worker and paid his bills, no foreclosure. I have always wondered how that could have been, perhaps these ITINs are the answer.
And why have mainstream media sources been reporting this for at least the past three years? I only added links to this post (below) which were from mainstream, presumably vetted sources. There are others, of course, which are more on the fringe but I avoid such sources. I don’t have any evidence to prove any immigrant of illegal status has gotten a mortgage personally. HUD only denies the accuracy of the number reported without denying they may exist.
So, are people getting loans without social security numbers, or with illegal status?
From the San Francisco Chronicle article:
“U.S. banks now routinely accept both taxpayer ID numbers and a Mexican ID called matricula consular to open new accounts. Many reach out to the Latino community with Spanish marketing materials and bilingual bank tellers.”
The latest twist is the taxpayer ID mortgage. Pioneered by small community banks, mainly in the Midwest, the loans slowly have begun to spread. As of September 2004, one credit union and 18 banks were offering such mortgages, according to a report by independent researcher Mari Gallagher. In California, Wells Fargo and Citibank both offer taxpayer ID mortgage loans, albeit in small programs.”
Do I think Jesus manifests himself in peanut butter? Nope. Do I believe the government is hiding UFOs from us? Nope. And I also believe we have landed on the moon. But I think at this point, to be intellectually honest, I also have to admit the assertion that illegals might have been allowed to take mortgages out with ITINs rather than social security numbers has enough merit to not dismiss out of hand, but to take time to research more thoroughly. I have been, and continue to be, impressed with your journalistic integrity.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17597739 (NPR, 2007:Morning Edition, December 25, 2007 · Some banks allow illegal immigrants to obtain a home mortgage even if they don’t have a Social Security number. While the borrower’s citizenship status may be undocumented, their ability to pay is thoroughly checked out. Surprisingly, illegal immigrants are often a good risk.)
http://originatortimes.com/content/templates/standard.aspx?articleid=2202&zoneid=5 (Dallas Morning News, 2006: “New rules and affordable home prices in Texas are leading to an increased number of illegal immigrants buying homes in North Texas,” said Marty Martinez, a North Texas real estate agent and board member of the Washington-based National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, or NAHREP. “Texas real estate prices provide a big incentive. First-time homebuyers can generally buy a home for under $100,000.”)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/06/15/MNGRMJEGM81.DTL (San Francisco Chronicle, 2006: Ramiro and Marisol, who asked that their last name not be used, are undocumented immigrants from Mexico. They’ve been in the country for four years. Marisol entered on a tourist visa. Ramiro hid in a car.
Their immigration status did not prevent them from buying a home. It is legal for undocumented people to purchase property in the United States.)
http://money.cnn.com/2005/08/08/news/economy/illegal_immigrants/ (CNNMoney.com, 2005:
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – The banking industry is opening its doors to a controversial new market: illegal immigrants.
Despite heated political debate in Washington over illegal immigration in the United States, an increasing number of banks are seeing an untapped resource for growing their own revenue stream and contend that providing undocumented residents with mortgages will help revitalize local communities.)