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Taxpayer-backed mortgages for undocumented immigrants?

Posted by: Dean Foust on December 14, 2005

The governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, recently unveiled a proposal that garnered controversy almost before he even finished his speech: He wants to create a new state-backed mortgage loan program that is intended to make home ownership more accessible to first-time buyers — regardless of immigration status (Wisconsin already has such a program). The program, as described in this Chicago Tribune article (registration may be required), simply requires borrowers to have lived in Illinois and filed tax returns for at least two years, according to the Trib. The program would make loans for up to 97% of property value if the borrow makes a downpayment for the remaining 3%.

Is this a good idea? I’m on the fence. I’m generally a supporter of programs for first-time buyers, and the studies I’ve seen suggest that immigrants — documented or undocumented — are pretty good credit risks, or at least better than the critics believe. But there are already a number of federal programs for first-time buyers, and some major lenders like Bank of America already have some pretty good programs in place to cater to immigrants, including programs that count the collective income not just of a single borrower or married couple, but for all family members of a single household (a recognition that many new immigrants share a home as an extended family). I worry that a state program like this won’t be well-run and given the minimal downpayment at a time when property values are sliding, is a recipe for a taxpayer bailout sometime down the road.

I know the governor is going to take a lot of heat from groups that don’t believe undocumented immigrants deserve the same privileges as U.S. citizens, as witnessed by this posting on another blog. And it isn’t just the bloggers; Illinois Sen. Bill Brady said he’s going to introduce legislation that would prevent any citizen-financed program that supports mortgages for illegal immigrants in Illinois.

Not sure I can agree with the poster nor Brady; I think the new immigrants contribute probably as much to society as they’re taking out in services. What do the other readers here think?

Reader Comments


December 14, 2005 8:04 PM

This is just a taxpayer-financed subsidy for the real estate industry. The end result of this taxpayer-financed injection of money into the real estate market is to increase prices, making it harder for new "non-qualifying" potential buyers to purchase homes, and increasing profits for banks, realtors, and real estate speculators.

I hope Governor Blagojevich got a nice campaign contribution from the real estate industry.

Concerned citizen

December 15, 2005 10:58 AM

What part of illegal is being mis-understood? If a citizen knows a person is here illegally shouldn't that person be reported to the INS not given money by the legal citizens? If a citizen sees a crime taking place shouldn't that citizen bring the crime to the attention of the appropriate entity?

Al Bedsole

December 16, 2005 10:44 AM

No, I don't believe that illegal aliens (also known by the politically correct term "undocumented immigrants") should be allowed to obtain taxpayer backed mortgages. Programs such as this just encourage more illegal immigration, because we seem to be saying that if you get caught trying to cross the border we'll arrest/detain/deport you, but if you make it in successfully, then your welcome and we'll treat you just like everyone else including those immigrants who abided by our laws and went through the long process to come here legally. That is contradictory. I mean didn't these break the law? We need to enforce our immigration laws or get rid of them and have an open border policy. I am all for immigration, because I do believe that it is beneficial for this country and that new immigrants do contribute greatly. The problem I see is that we've lost control. We have no idea of who and how many arrive. Americans better get used to a lower quality of life if this continues, because the numbers are large and increasing. This will put a strain on the environment with the increasing utilization of scarce resources, more crowded urban areas, clogged roads, more pollution, sprawl, etc.

Cal Skinner

December 17, 2005 7:20 PM

We are scheduled to have taxpayer-financed health care for kids in Illinois who do not have to be here legally. We already are forced to pay for their education.

The program about which you write is small compared to the ones I have mentioned.


December 25, 2005 11:09 AM

I am not surprised that most people are opposed to non documented workers right to have houses?
I think we always miss the boat as far as macro economics or future trends are concerned.
If the current trends continues and us economy continues to hollow out (Andy Grove and others) then a day is not far when our kids would be seeking visa to go to work in Canda, China and India.
In the same time real brains can debate these non issues when they all work at Burger King and Macdonals.
It was same brainacs whose racist policies cause massive migration of (mostly muslims) asian to canada whose socialist government welcomed them with open arms?
End result? Toronto is booming unlike any other na city?
Follow Canada, is what I would suggest.
More immigration is good for america otherwise start learning Hindi.

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BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.

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