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UH Law Center Professor Hoffman testifies in DACA case that ends with $19.6 million settlement

June 18, 2020 — University of Houston Law Center Clinical Professor Geoffrey A. Hoffman served as an expert witness on behalf of DACA recipients that led to a $19.6 million settlement with Wells Fargo bank for discrimination in denying consumer loans and credit cards.

In his expert report and deposition, Hoffman, director of the Law Center’s Immigration Clinic, rebutted the bank expert’s interpretation of immigration law and the ability of the bank to assess the deportation risk for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

“This case amply highlights the fact that DACA recipients have legal rights and must be protected against discrimination,” Hoffman said. “If they are discriminated against, they can pursue legal redress and seek remedies in court.”

Terms of the settlement reached in a U.S. district court in San Francisco were released Wednesday. Separate class action suits filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Justice Catalyst Law, alleged the bank denied auto loans, student loans, credit cards, personal loans, small business loans, and home mortgages to DACA recipients.

“The arguments in favor of the plaintiffs’ position hinged upon several claims, including violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act (California Civil Code §§ 51 and 52 et seq.) as well as Alienage Discrimination under federal law (42 U.S.C. § 1981),” Hoffman explained.

The agreements give DACA recipients in California the opportunity to receive cash payments of up to $2,500 for each denial of credit from Wells Fargo, and for DACA recipients elsewhere to receive up to either $100 or $300 for each denial of credit.

The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision released today rejected the Trump Administration’s attempt to dismantle the DACA program, saying it had failed to follow legal procedures and did not take into account the ramifications so-called “dreamers” would face as a result.

Click here and here to read the briefs. Click here and here to read the settlements.

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