Commentary

Illegal Immigration and the Mortgage Mess

By Michelle Malkin | September 24, 2008 | 6:07am EDT
The Mother of All Bailouts has many fathers. As panicked politicians prepare to fork over $1 trillion in taxpayer funding to rescue the financial industry, they've fingered regulation, deregulation, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Community Reinvestment Act, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, both Bushes, greedy banks, greedy borrowers, greedy short-sellers and minority home ownership mau-mauers (can't call 'em greedy, that would be racist) for blame.
 
But there's one giant paternal elephant in the room that has slipped notice: how illegal immigration, crime-enabling banks and open-borders Bush policies fueled the mortgage crisis.
 
It's no coincidence that most of the areas hardest hit by the foreclosure wave -- Loudoun County, Va., California's Inland Empire, Stockton and San Joaquin Valley, and Las Vegas and Phoenix, for starters -- also happen to be some of the nation's largest illegal alien sanctuaries.
 
Half of the mortgages to Hispanics are subprime (the accursed species of loan to borrowers with the shadiest credit histories). A quarter of all those subprime loans are in default and foreclosure.
 
Regional reports across the country have decried the subprime meltdown's impact on illegal immigrant "victims." A July report showed that in seven of the 10 metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates, Hispanics represented at least one-third of the population; in two of those areas -- Merced and Salinas-Monterey, Calif. -- Hispanics comprised half the population.
 
The amnesty-promoting National Council of La Raza and its Development Fund have received millions in federal funds to "counsel" their constituents on obtaining mortgages with little to no money down; the group almost succeeded in attaching a $10-million earmark for itself in one of the housing bills past this spring.
 
For the last five years, I've reported on the rapidly expanding illegal alien home loan racket. The top banks clamoring for their handouts as their profits plummet, led by Wachovia and Bank of America, launched aggressive campaigns to woo illegal alien homebuyers. The quasi-governmental Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority jumped in to guarantee home loans to illegal immigrants.
 
The Washington Post noted, almost as an afterthought in a 2005 report: "Hispanics, the nation's fastest-growing major ethnic or racial group, have been courted aggressively by real estate agents, mortgage brokers and programs for first-time buyers that offer help with closing costs. Ads proclaim: "Sin verificacion de ingresos! Sin verificacion de documento!" -- which loosely translates as, 'Income tax forms are not required, nor are immigration papers.'"
 
In addition, fraudsters have engaged in massive house-flipping rings using illegal aliens as straw buyers. Among many examples cited by the FBI: a conspiracy in Las Vegas involving a former Nevada First Residential Mortgage Company branch manager who directed loan officers and processors in the origination of 233 fraudulent Federal Housing Authority loans valued at over $25 million.
 
The defrauders manufactured and submitted false employment and income documentation for borrowers; most were illegal immigrants from Mexico. To date, the FBI reported, "Fifty-eight loans with a total value of $6.2 million have gone into default, with a loss to the Housing and Urban Development Department of over $1.9 million."
 
It's the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to lax Bush administration-approved policies allowing illegal aliens to use "matricula consular cards" and taxpayer identification numbers to open bank accounts, more forms of mortgage fraud have burgeoned. Moneylenders still have no access to a verification system to check Social Security numbers before approving loans.
 
In an interview about rampant illegal alien home loan fraud, a spokeswoman for the U.S. General Accounting Office told me five years ago: "[C]onsidering the size of Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston and other large cities throughout the United States known to be inundated with illegal aliens, I don't think the federal government is willing to expose this problem for financial reasons as well as for fear of political repercussions."

The chickens are coming home to roost. And law-abiding, responsible taxpayers are going to pay for it.

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