Beneficial State Foundation Perspectives

Our thoughts on changing the banking system for good and building the new economy

Credit scores have nothing to do with citizenship

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is making it more difficult for immigrants to become legal residents. It is recommending that credit scores be used to determine the likelihood that an immigrant will become a “public charge,” (someone considered to be primarily dependent on government assistance). At Beneficial State Foundation, we work to change the banking system for good in service of creating a just economy for all. And so we are deeply troubled by the proposed changes that link creditworthiness to citizenship. A credit score is not an indicator of a person’s deservedness of citizenship. A credit score, already a deeply imperfect measurement of one’s financial status, was never meant to be used in decisioning around granting or denying citizenship.

It’s no secret that the U.S. credit score system reinforces racial inequities. Black communities and other communities of color have been disproportionately targeted for high-cost, predatory loans and risky financial products, putting Black and Latinx immigrant communities at higher risk of having damaged credit. If enacted, these new regulations could prevent immigrants from using the programs their tax dollars help support, and could prevent them from accessing basic necessities like healthy food and affordable housing. This is a clear attempt to put up citizenship barriers for low-income and financially marginalized people by using their financial status as a citizenship factor. We strongly oppose the proposed changes and advocate for immigration reform that preserves the humanity and dignity of all people.

Show your solidarity by advocating for financial security for immigrant communities. You can submit a public comment about protecting immigrant families from these proposed changes online or by mail. Written comments must be received no later than December 10, 2018.

More resources:

Public charge: a proposed rule with a cruel choice for all immigrant families

Immigrants could be required to show credit scores if they want to stay in the U.S.