The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo on Monday claiming that the bank illegally denied loans to applicants who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
DACA was created by an executive order signed by President Obama in 2012. It gives young immigrants who were brought here as small children and do not have legal status the opportunity to stay in the country, get Social Security numbers, obtain work permits, go to school and even apply for permission to leave and reenter the country.
DACA students are not eligible for federal financial aid.
One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is Mitzie Perez, a third-year undergrad student at the University of California, Riverside. Perez is not a citizen or permanent resident, but she has a Social Security number and work permit, which she obtained through DACA.
Perez turned to Wells Fargo to apply for a loan in August of 2016. She filled out the student loan application on the Wells Fargo website and met their requirements for identification, but when she disclosed that she is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, she was denied the loan. She went back to see what would happen if she changed her answer to “permanent resident alien” and got information about a student loan option as well as a note that read: “Based on the citizenship status you provided, a U.S. citizen cosigner will be required for this application.”
The lawsuit is seeking class-action status so it can include anyone in the United States since 2014 that was “denied the right to contract for a loan or other financial product by Wells Fargo because they were not U.S. citizens despite satisfying Wells Fargo’s Customer Identification Program (CIP) compliance.”
As for Wells Fargo, the fourth largest bank in the nation, they said in a statement that they are “disappointed” the plaintiffs prefer to sue “rather than work with us on solutions to help people realize their goals of higher education.”
This isn’t the first time Wells Fargo has come under fire. In 2015, the bank fired over 5,000 employees after discovering they were targeting Latino immigrants to create bogus accounts to meet target sales goals. And in December 2016, the city of Seattle introduced legislation to divest from Wells Fargo due to the bank’s investment in the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline; if successful, Seattle’s divestment will cost the bank $3 billion.
It’s been a crazy few months for Jennifer Lopez who starred in “Hustlers” andearned a Golden Globe nomination for the role and is expected to get an Oscar nod as well. However, the real-life stripper, Samantha Barbash, who helped inspire the film and Lopez’s character, Ramona, won’t be congratulating her anytime soon.
That’s because Barbash is suing Lopez’s film studio Nuyorican Productions, STX Entertainment, Gloria Sanchez Productions, and Pole Sisters LLC, claiming filmmakers defamed her and failed to uphold her civil rights. While Lopez is not specifically named in the lawsuit, her production company is. As of now, she has yet to comment on the lawsuit.
According to TMZ, Barbash is filing a lawsuit for $40 million; $20 million in compensatory damages and $20 million in punitive damages. She is also asking for a court order that would require producers to turn over all copies of the film. The lawsuit reads that Barbash was contacted by producers of the film multiple times for her consent but ultimately never gave it. Production of the film would go on without her approval.
According to Barbash, the film “Hustlers” is a direct depiction of her and claims that the character Ramona is still too similar to her.
“Hustlers” focuses on the story of Destiny (Constance Wu) who is trying to make ends meet as a club dancer. She becomes friends with a successful dancer, Ramona (Lopez) who takes her under her wing. In the film, the duo partakes in a scam where they take advantage of Wall Street bankers and drug them, eventually taking their money.
The movie was originally based on a 2015 New York Magazine story, “The Hustlers at Scores,” which describes the real-life events of Barbash and her experience as a club stripper at Score’s Gentlemen’s Club in New York. Barbash would eventually plead guilty to conspiracy, assault and grand larceny for her role in the real-life scheme in 2016, serving five years probation. While the film was based on the New York Magazine Story, Barbash claims that the character Ramona is a direct depiction of her.
“Defendants did not take caution to protect the rights of Ms Barbash by creating a fictionalised character, or by creating a composite of characters to render J-Lo’s character a new fictitious one; rather they engaged in a systematic effort to make it well-known that J-Lo was playing Ms Barbash,” the suit reads.
“While we have not yet seen the complaint, we will continue to defend our right to tell factually based stories based on the public record,” STXfilms spokesman Steve Elzer told the LA Times.
This isn’t the first time we hear of a potential lawsuit from Barbash, who has been threatening legal action before the film was released back in September.
Barbash might have planning to file a lawsuit from the very beginning as she spoke to the New York Post about it last April, months before the movie’s September release. She pointed out to the New York Post that she was a hostess and was never a stripper as depicted in the film.
“We’re putting a stop to it because she’s actually misrepresenting me. I was never a stripper. It’s defamation of character,” Barbash said. “It’s my story she’s making money off of,” Barbash fumed. “If she wants to play me, then she should have gotten the real story.”
When the movie was doing its press run, Barbash was interviewed by Vanity Fair about her thoughts on the film. She told the magazine that she “wasn’t that impressed” with “Hustlers.”
“Everyone has been asking, ‘Did I see the movie?’ So I thought, ‘Why don’t I just see the movie,’ because I knew I was going to have a lot of interviews about it this week,” she told Vanity Fair. “I wasn’t really that impressed. I was impressed with Jennifer. She was incredible. Her body looked incredible. She had it down to a tee, but it wasn’t factual.”
While she wasn’t a fan of the movie as a whole, Barbash did give credit to Cardi B’s role in the film ultimately saying that she wished she would have played her character in the movie.
“I love Cardi,” Barbash said. “Her 10 minutes was a great 10 minutes… It’s funny because, when I first heard that the film was coming out, [my business partner] said [she wished] Cardi would have played me. Even though she is not an actress, she was in the strip club world and she gets it. She would have maybe played a better me. Not taking away from Jennifer. But just because Cardi was in the business.”
DACA is supposed to protect those who qualify for the protected status from deportation proceedings. This is how the program has worked (or was intended to) since 2012, when President Obama enacted it via executive order. However, many DACA recipients are now facing the uncertain futures they had hoped to avoid by signing up for DACA in the first place as ICE has moved to reopen their deportation cases.
This has thrown people’s futures into doubt and cast a dark shadow over their status and the lives of their families.
ICE has moved to reopen long closed deportation cases against DREAMers.
In an escalation of its pursuit of undocumented immigrants, the Trump administration is moving to deport members of the very group that seemed until a few years ago the most protected: DACA recipients.
ICE has begun asking immigration courts to reopen administratively closed deportation cases against DACA recipients who continue to have no criminal record, or only a minor record. Immigration attorneys in Arizona confirmed at least 14 such cases being reopened since October, and according to a report by CNN, there are also cases which were recently reopened in Nevada, Missouri, California, and New York.
And that is just the beginning. ICE confirmed that all DACA recipients whose deportation cases have been administratively closed can expect to see them reopened. In an email, the agency stated that “re-calendaring of administratively closed cases is occurring nationwide and not isolated to a particular state or region.”Administratively closing a case removes it from the court calendar, in effect putting it on hold indefinitely. Immigration courts are part of the Department of Justice, unlike civil or criminal courts.
The move to reopen deportation cases against Dreamers comes as the US Supreme Court considers whether to let the Trump administration end the program.
During oral arguments in November, the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority signaled Tuesday that it may let the Trump administration shut down the Obama-era program that granted temporary protection from deportation to roughly 700,000. Some justices made it clear that they were accepting the president’s assurances that ending DACA would not mean deporting Dreamers.
But immigration attorneys say the cases they are now seeing reopened show how ICE is preparing to deport DACA recipients if the Supreme Court ruling terminates the program.
It has long been the case that Dreamers who are charged with or convicted of a serious crime risk losing DACA status and being deported, since applicants had to have no felonies, significant misdemeanors, or three or more other misdemeanors to qualify for deferred action in the first place.
According to CNN, cases against DACA recipients began being reopened in October.
“It wasn’t until October that DHS (Department of Homeland Security) started to reopen the DACA cases,” Tucson attorney Jesse Evans-Schroeder wrote in an email to CNN. She said five of her DACA clients saw their cases reopened in October or November.
Before May 2018, when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions barred the practice of administratively closing cases, immigration judges as a matter of routine administratively closed deportation cases against people who received DACA, since that status protected them from deportation.
In a statement provided by spokeswoman Paige Hughes, ICE said that it is required under Session’s May 2018 decision “to reopen approximately 350,000 administratively closed cases so they are litigated to completion,” and the applicant is ordered removed or obtains relief. ICE did not break down how many of the 350,000 administratively closed cases involve DACA recipients versus other people who are simply a low priority for deportation, but Hughes said there is no stipulation that would exempt DACA recipients.
Just this week, a DACA recipient in California was arrested by ICE while at her job at a Marriott Hotel.
According to her family and friends, ICE agents took Daniella Ramirez, 23, into custody at 5:30 a.m. Friday.
According to NBC 4, Ramirez worked full time in the kitchen and as a receptionist at the hotel for the past two years. Ramirez came to the U.S. from Mexico with her sister when she was 10-years-old. She graduated from Azusa High School, and her DACA status expired. She told NBC 4 she neglected to renew it out of fear. She says she’d heard she’d be sent to jail if she did.
And a mother driving her 5-year-old to school was stopped, arrested, and held in jail despite having an active DACA status.
Paula Hincapie-Rendon was on her way to drop off her kid at school when an unmarked car started following her. Hours later, her parents were in an ICE detention center and her house had been burglarized.
But on the morning of May 8, agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested her a block away from her house in Englewood.
Hincapie-Rendon said she was taking her 5-year-old daughter to school when an unmarked car pulled her over. Two agents approached her car and told her to get out. She asked them to identify themselves three times, but they refused. On the fourth try, they answered.
Hincapie-Rendon asked if she could take her daughter back to the house and leave her with her parents. The agents obliged, with one caveat — they would be driving her car while she sat in their van, handcuffed.
Once at the house, agents found Hincapie-Rendon’s dad, Carlos Hincapie, leaving for work. They arrested him on the spot. Agents then went into the house and arrested Hincapie-Rendon’s mom, Betty Rendon, a Lutheran minister who was set to start her doctorate at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in June. Agents also arrested Hincapie’s cousin, who was staying with the family.
The agents drove the family to ICE’s field office in the Loop. The agency released Hincapie-Rendon that same afternoon under an order of supervision.
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