For Dreamers, DACA's end could mean losing their homes

When Diego Corzo got DACA status six years ago, one of the first things he thought about was buying a home."It...

Posted: Jan 24, 2018 2:35 PM
Updated: Jan 24, 2018 2:35 PM

When Diego Corzo got DACA status six years ago, one of the first things he thought about was buying a home.

"It was very important to me," said Corzo, 27, who has never left the United States since arriving from Peru at age 9.

"Owning my own house proved to me that despite all of the odds stacked against Dreamers like me, I was still pursuing this ultimate American Dream," he said.

One of his biggest fears now is losing his home if the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program ends permanently. If that happens, Corzo could lose not only the first home he bought as Dreamer, but a second home he owns which he calls his "dream home," and six other rental properties that he also owns and manages.

DACA has allowed nearly 689,000 Dreamers, who were brought to the United States as children, to openly attend school and get work permits and driver's licenses. The program allowed many Dreamers to come out of the shadow economy and apply for mortgages and buy homes -- the pinnacle of the American Dream.

"Without a job, I won't be able to pay my mortgage and my home would go into foreclosure," said Corzo, whose DACA status expires in 2019.

President Trump announced in September that he would end DACA but left it to Congress to pass alternative legislation before the Obama-era program expires on March 5. But lawmakers and the Trump administration have been unable to move forward.

If DACA expires, it means that every day for the next two years 915 DACA holders, on average, will lose their ability to work and their protection from deportation.

Related: America's biggest businesses are standing by their Dreamer employees

It's not exactly clear how many DACA holders own homes. A survey of more than 3,000 DACA individuals in 46 states showed that 15%, age 25 and older, own a home. That research was conducted jointly last August by the University of California, San Diego, and partner organizations including the National Immigration Law Center and the Center for American Progress.

Corzo, who also co-owns a real estate franchise in Austin, estimates that in his experience 95% of DACA homeowners have mortgages.

When Corzo got DACA status, he applied for a home loan of $160,000. "At the time, I was working as a software developer with General Motors in Austin, and renting. It took me a year to build credit first," he said.

Cleared for the loan, he bought his first home -- four bedrooms with red brick facade -- in November 2014. Three years later, Corzo acquired a second house. He rents out his starter home.

He runs his real estate business through his home office and manages six rental properties he owns in Florida.

Corzo believes Dreamers who own homes are boosting the economy. "We pay the lender, we pay the home inspector, we pay the contractor and handyman," he said.

Alex Nowrasteh, immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute, agrees.

"If the government pushed Dreamers out of the housing market, the rental market, and ultimately out of the country, there could be a substantial decline in the housing prices where they live especially in large numbers," he said.

In order to qualify for DACA, Dreamers must at a minimum have a high school degree but many also go on to college, said Randy Capps, director of research for U.S. programs at the Migration Policy Institute.

"They are a group who then take advantage of their higher education to get higher wages, professional jobs, buy homes, cars and stimulate the economy," Capps said.

Related: Who is covered by DACA? Teachers, caregivers and more

Juan Mendez, 28, also wanted to be a homeowner but feared taking out a mortgage because of his DACA status.

"I thought if DACA was rescinded at any time, I would be in a very bad situation with the loan," said Mendez, who is a health and wellness specialist at Walmart. His DACA status expires early next year.

Instead, he decided to buy land in Springdale, Arkansas, where he lives and works, from a friend who lent him the money.

"My friend knew my status but he also saw my drive and gave me an opportunity to achieve my American Dream," he said.

Mendez and his wife, who is also a Dreamer, are building their house on that land.

The project has been a labor of love and fiscal restraint, he said.

"We set up a budget and we're both fiscally conservative," he said. "It hasn't been cheap or easy." To save money, Mendez and his wife laid the flooring and installed cabinets, windows and doors by themselves. They have invested $26,000 so far.

"We're still working on the exterior while we live in it," he said.

If he permanently loses DACA protection and with it the ability to work, Mendez said he'll struggle to pay off the loan from his friend, plus he might not have enough to pay his property taxes or utilities.

"My house is my source of pride. But it will become my biggest burden," he said. "I would hope President Trump, with his background in real estate, understands. Dreamers may be a drop in the bucket but we are doing our part as homeowners to stimulate the economy."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 75862

Reported Deaths: 3069
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16088730
Lake7688278
Elkhart492685
Allen4002163
St. Joseph357883
Hamilton2829104
Vanderburgh202213
Hendricks1927108
Cass18029
Johnson1789119
Porter135539
Clark128749
Tippecanoe123811
Madison100665
LaPorte93130
Howard91365
Kosciusko86812
Bartholomew81747
Floyd80948
Marshall79323
Monroe76631
Delaware74552
Dubois70812
Vigo69911
Noble68829
Boone68746
Hancock68339
Jackson5965
Warrick58830
Shelby56527
LaGrange56310
Grant52930
Dearborn51228
Morgan49334
Clinton4444
Henry40620
Wayne38510
White37611
Montgomery35921
Lawrence35227
Harrison34823
Decatur34132
Putnam3128
Daviess27720
Miami2772
Scott27210
Jasper2552
Greene25434
Franklin24615
DeKalb2384
Gibson2314
Jennings22712
Steuben2133
Ripley2138
Carroll1962
Fayette1947
Perry18713
Posey1790
Starke1787
Wells1742
Orange17424
Fulton1722
Wabash1703
Jefferson1672
Knox1610
Whitley1556
Tipton14312
Washington1421
Sullivan1381
Spencer1373
Clay1245
Huntington1243
Randolph1244
Newton12010
Adams1092
Owen991
Jay920
Rush854
Pulaski811
Fountain742
Brown741
Blackford652
Ohio656
Benton640
Pike590
Vermillion580
Switzerland530
Parke511
Martin480
Crawford450
Union410
Warren241
Unassigned0206

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 102826

Reported Deaths: 3708
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18697529
Cuyahoga13734505
Hamilton9766257
Lucas5448326
Montgomery443896
Summit3614223
Butler297663
Marion293545
Mahoning2595255
Pickaway239142
Stark1884140
Warren182139
Lorain181377
Columbiana167160
Trumbull1549108
Fairfield141632
Delaware134419
Licking131951
Clark117815
Lake113141
Wood106858
Clermont95311
Medina94535
Miami85839
Tuscarawas79314
Portage77163
Allen76946
Greene71812
Mercer63113
Belmont62326
Richland61412
Erie59728
Ashtabula57646
Geauga55944
Wayne54558
Ross4944
Darke40629
Huron4045
Madison40110
Ottawa39626
Sandusky39017
Hancock3893
Athens3602
Holmes3286
Lawrence3000
Auglaize2636
Union2601
Muskingum2431
Scioto2421
Jefferson2373
Seneca2283
Knox2127
Putnam21117
Shelby2104
Washington20922
Preble2072
Coshocton1967
Champaign1812
Morrow1762
Crawford1755
Hardin17012
Clinton1696
Highland1661
Logan1602
Ashland1543
Fulton1531
Wyandot1509
Defiance1504
Brown1462
Perry1403
Williams1363
Henry1222
Fayette1210
Guernsey1197
Hocking1189
Carroll1135
Monroe9418
Pike790
Jackson760
Van Wert732
Paulding700
Gallia701
Adams612
Meigs540
Vinton322
Morgan300
Harrison261
Noble160
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 61°
Angola
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 55°
Huntington
Few Clouds
62° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 62°
Decatur
55° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 55°
Van Wert
55° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 55°
Mostly Sunny Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events