Expose, Rebuke, Return

Arvest Bank (Wal-Mart) gives mortgages for illegals to buy homes--illegal by Fed. Laws

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This entry was posted on 1/27/2008 3:54 PM and is filed under Immigration Law.

Thanks to Sharon for this one.  The Crime Families strike again, this time the Walton’s (Wal-Mart).  There is nothing they won’t do (e.g. Tyson’s, George’s, O.K. Foods, Simmons, et al.) to make a buck and screw the taxpaying citizens…and they do it with the help of scofflaw government agencies. 

It’s a good and rare thing for officials to actually arrest and incarcerate illegal alien criminals but it’s another to ignore other Federal immigration laws.  Please see below our comments & the existing laws in red.

 

Check yourself.  Find out how RARE mortgages are to people who had no Fed ID or social security number that also have suspiciously Hispanic names.

And how do you foreclose on a mortgage to an illegal who has no legal standing?

Or the Contract for Deed where a straw buyer recontracts to illegals?

Who owns Arvest Bank? Check Alice Walton of WalMart . . . .

                                                                                                            Sharon Stark, Little Rock

Mortgages for illegals to buy houses are OK but rare in Arkansas

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Sunday, January 27, 2008

— While Arturo Reyes Jr. sits in jail on charges of harboring illegal aliens, his wife and co-defendant, Silvia, is under federal detention at their home - a brick house with a soaring foyer and a soccer goal in the yard.

There’s also a hole dug for a backyard pool - a project that may have to wait.

The Reyeses’ plans were upended last month when immigration agents raided the family business, Acambaro Mexican restaurants.

Prosecutors are mounting a criminal case and are moving to seize the Reyeses’ home and other properties they call the fruits of the illegal labor the Reyeses are accused of using in their restaurants.

(Federal Immigration and Nationality Act
Section 8 USC 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv)(b)(iii)

"Any person who . . . encourages or induces an alien to . . . reside . . . knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such . . . residence is . . . in violation of law, shall be punished as provided . . . for each alien in respect to whom such a violation occurs . . . fined under title 18 . . . imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both."

Section 274 felonies under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, INA 274A(a)(1)(A):

A person (including a group of persons, business, organization, or local government) commits a federal felony when she or he:

* assists an alien s/he should reasonably know is illegally in the U.S. or who lacks employment authorization, by transporting, sheltering, or assisting him or her to obtain employment, or

* encourages that alien to remain in the U.S. by referring him or her to an employer or by acting as employer or agent for an employer in any way, or

* knowingly assists illegal aliens due to personal convictions.

Penalties upon conviction include criminal fines, imprisonment, and forfeiture of vehicles and real property used to commit the crime. Anyone employing or contracting with an illegal alien without verifying his or her work authorization status is guilty of a misdemeanor. Aliens and employers violating immigration laws are subject to arrest, detention, and seizure of their vehicles or property. In addition, individuals or entities who engage in racketeering enterprises that commit (or conspire to commit) immigration-related felonies are subject to private civil suits for treble damages and injunctive relief.

Largely overshadowed: the bank that holds the mortgages. Arvest Bank in Bentonville is one of the few banks in Northwest Arkansas where an illegal alien can hope to get a mortgage loan. (See statute above)

The Dec. 10 raid at Acambaro restaurants in Washington and Benton counties rounded up19 illegal aliens for deportation and landed the Reyeses and two Acambaro managers in jail on charges that they knowingly hired illegal workers.

Recruitment and Employment of Illegal Aliens

It is unlawful to hire an alien, to recruit an alien, or to refer an alien for a fee, knowing the alien is unauthorized to work in the United States. It is equally unlawful to continue to employ an alien knowing that the alien is unauthorized to work. Employers may give preference in recruitment and hiring to a U.S. citizen over an alien with work authorization only where the U.S. citizen is equally or better qualified. It is unlawful to hire an individual for employment in the United States without complying with employment eligibility verification requirements. Requirements include examination of identity documents and completion of Form I-9 for every employee hired. Employers must retain all I-9s, and, with three days' advance notice, the forms must be made available for inspection. Employment includes any service or labor performed for any type of remuneration within the United States, with the exception of sporadic domestic service by an individual in a private home. Day laborers or other casual workers engaged in any compensated activity (with the above exception) are employees for purposes of immigration law. An employer includes an agent or anyone acting directly or indirectly in the interest of the employer. For purposes of verfication of authorization to work, employer also means an independent contractor, or a contractor other than the person using the alien labor. The use of temporary or short-term contracts cannot be used to circumvent the employment authorization verification requirements. If employment is to be for less than the usual three days allowed for completing the I-9 Form requirement, the form must be completed immediately at the time of hire.

An employer has constructive knowledge that an employee is an illegal unauthorized worker if a reasonable person would infer it from the facts. Constructive knowledge constituting a violation of federal law has been found where (1) the I-9 employment eligibility form has not been properly completed, including supporting documentation, (2) the employer has learned from other individuals, media reports, or any source of information available to the employer that the alien is unauthorized to work, or (3) the employer acts with reckless disregard for the legal consequences of permitting a third party to provide or introduce an illegal alien into the employer's work force. Knowledge cannot be inferred solely on the basis of an individual's accent or foreign appearance.

Actual specific knowledge is not required. For example, a newspaper article stating that ballrooms depend on an illegal alien work force of dance hostesses was held by the courts to be a reasonable ground for suspicion that unlawful conduct had occurred.

IT IS ILLEGAL FOR NONPROFIT OR RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS to knowingly assist an employer to violate employment sanctions, REGARDLESS OF CLAIMS THAT THEIR CONVICTIONS REQUIRE THEM TO ASSIST ALIENS. Harboring or aiding illegal aliens is not protected by the First Amendment. It is a felony to establish a commercial enterprise for the purpose of evading any provision of federal immigration law. Violators may be fined or imprisoned for up to five years.

Arturo Reyes Jr. has pleaded innocent to a three-count indictment alleging he harbored and shielded illegal aliens by providing them with financial support through employment. Reyes also is charged with money laundering. He is scheduled for trial Feb. 25 in U.S. District Court. Silvia Reyes has yet to be formally charged.

The family’s $460,000 home in a gated neighborhood in Rogers stands as the most obvious symbol of the wealth that prosecutors allege the Reyeses accumulated by exploiting illegal workers.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Fort Smith contends the Reyeses should forfeit the house, the lot next door and nine other properties, including restaurants and a warehouse, because “they were used in the commission of, or are properties which were derived from and represent the proceeds of, the concealing or harboring of an alien or aliens.”

While an employer who hands an illegal immigrant a paycheck risks 10 years in prison and the loss of his property for harboring an illegal alien, a bank that lends an alien the money to buy a house and settle down in the country is well within the law. (No, they are not).

Encouraging and Harboring Illegal Aliens

It is a violation of law for any person to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection in any place, including any building or means of transportation, any alien who is in the United States in violation of law. HARBORING MEANS ANY CONDUCT THAT TENDS TO SUBSTANTIALLY FACILITATE AN ALIEN TO REMAIN IN THE U.S. ILLEGALLY. The sheltering need not be clandestine, and harboring covers aliens arrested outdoors, as well as in a building. This provision includes harboring an alien who entered the U.S. legally but has since lost his legal status.

An employer can be convicted of the felony of harboring illegal aliens who are his employees if he takes actions in reckless disregard of their illegal status, such as ordering them to obtain false documents, altering records, obstructing INS inspections, or taking other actions that facilitate the alien's illegal employment. Any person who within any 12-month period hires ten or more individuals with actual knowledge that they are illegal aliens or unauthorized workers is guilty of felony harboring. It is also a felony to encourage or induce an alien to come to or reside in the U.S. knowing or recklessly disregarding the fact that the alien's entry or residence is in violation of the law. This crime applies to any person, rather than just employers of illegal aliens. Courts have ruled that "encouraging" includes counseling illegal aliens to continue working in the U.S. or assisting them to complete applications with false statements or obvious errors. The fact that the alien is a refugee fleeing persecution is not a defense to this felony, since U.S. law and the UN Protocol on Refugees both require that a refugee must report to immigration authorities without delay upon entry to the U.S.

The penalty for felony harboring is a fine and imprisonment for up to five years. The penalty for felony alien smuggling is a fine and up to ten years' imprisonment. Where the crime causes serious bodily injury or places the life of any person in jeopardy, the penalty is a fine and up to twenty years' imprisonment. If the criminal smuggling or harboring results in the death of any person, the penalty can include life imprisonment. Convictions for aiding, abetting, or conspiracy to commit alien smuggling or harboring, carry the same penalties. Courts can impose consecutive prison sentences for each alien smuggled or harbored. A court may order a convicted smuggler to pay restitution if the alien smuggled qualifies as a victim under the Victim and Witness Protection Act. Conspiracy to commit crimes of sheltering, harboring, or employing illegal aliens is a separate federal offense punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or five years' imprisonment.

Arvest lent the Reyes family more than $2 million for houses and restaurant properties that government prosecutors are now moving to seize, mortgages on file at the Benton County Courthouse show.

In each case, the bank made the loans to Arturo Jr. and Silvia Reyes, who prosecutors have identified as illegal aliens, the documents show. Nearly all of the mortgages also name family patriarch Arturo Reyes Sr. and his wife, Serafina, who are legal U.S. residents. The note for the vacant lot next door to the Reyes house was signed by Arturo Jr. and Silvia alone.

Enforcement

A person or entity having knowledge of a violation or potential violation of employer sanctions provisions may submit a signed written complaint to the INS office with jurisdiction over the business or residence of the potential violator, whether an employer, employee, or agent. The complaint must include the names and addresses of both the complainant and the violator, and detailed factual allegations, including date, time, and place of the potential violation, and the specific conduct alleged to be a violation of employer sanctions. By regulation, the INS will only investigate third-party complaints that have a reasonable probability of validity. Designated INS officers and employees, and all other officers whose duty it is to enforce criminal laws, may make an arrest for violation of smuggling or harboring illegal aliens.

State and local law enforcement officials have the general power to investigate and arrest violators of federal immigration statutes without prior INS knowledge or approval, as long as they are authorized to do so by state law. There is no extant federal limitation on this authority. The 1996 immigration control legislation passed by Congress was intended to encourage states and local agencies to participate in the process of enforcing federal immigration laws. Immigration officers and local law enforcement officers may detain an individual for a brief warrantless interrogation where circumstances create a reasonable suspicion that the individual is illegally present in the U.S. Specific facts constituting a reasonable suspicion include evasive, nervous, or erratic behavior; dress or speech indicating foreign citizenship; and presence in an area known to contain a concentration of illegal aliens. Hispanic appearance alone is not sufficient. Immigration officers and police must have a valid warrant or valid employer's consent to enter workplaces or residences. Any vehicle used to transport or harbor illegal aliens, or used as a substantial part of an activity that encourages illegal aliens to come to or reside in the U.S. may be seized by an immigration officer and is subject to forfeiture. The forfeiture power covers any conveyances used within the U.S.

Tax Crimes

Employers who aid or abet the preparation of false tax returns by failing to pay income or Social Security taxes for illegal alien employees, or who knowingly make payments using false names or Social Security numbers, are subject to IRS criminal and civil sanctions. U.S. nationals who have suffered intentional discrimination because of citizenship or national origin by an employer with more than three employees may file a complaint within 180 days of the discriminatory act with the Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, U.S. Department of Justice. In additon to the federal statutes summarized, state laws and local ordinances controlling fair labor practices, workers compensation, zoning, safe housing and rental property, nuisance, licensing, street vending, and solicitations by contractors may also apply to activities that involve illegal aliens.

Arvest is one of a small number of banks that make mortgage loans to customers who don’t have Social Security numbers and thus could be illegal aliens, according to an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette survey of 26 banks in Washington and Benton counties. The two counties are home to most of the state’s Hispanic immigrants.

Arvest spokesman Jason Kincy declined to discuss the Reyes mortgages, saying he couldn’t discuss a customer’s business.

But he said mortgages extended to borrowers without Social Security numbers make up a “very small” portion of Arvest’s mortgage portfolio and that the bank complies with all federal rules on mortgages.

“We’re well within the regulations to make those loans,” Kincy said. (Not so, see statutes above)

Of the 18 banks that responded to the newspaper’s survey, only Arvest and ANB Financial in Rogers said they don’t automatically disqualify borrowers who cannot show a valid visa or other proof of residency.

ITIN MORTGAGES

Instead of the usual Social Security numbers, banks may make the loans on the basis of an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. The Internal Revenue Service issues the nine-digit taxprocessing number to individuals who don’t qualify for Social Security numbers but earn income in the United States. It’s a way for the federal government to collect taxes from them.

Some banks make mortgage loans to customers with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, and some do not. In Northwest Arkansas, banks that make the loans take various approaches.

“We do not offer ITIN mortgages except in very, very rare cases,” said Terry Francisco, a spokesman for Bank of America. “Let’s say someone is a French citizen and they want to buy a second home in the U.S. We might consider that,” he said.

At Regions Bank, Keith Smith said a borrower who can showlegal residency can get a mortgage under a taxpayer-identification number. “As long as the consumer has a work visa, which means, generally speaking, that they’re not going to have a Social Security number, then we do have some ways. But you’ve got to show a work visa.”

Most banks surveyed said they do not make mortgage loans to customers without Social Security numbers. A few, such as Priority Bank, said they haven’t adopted a policy because no one has ever showed up wanting such a mortgage.

A handful of banks didn’t return calls inquiring about their policies.

At First Security, based in Searcy, vice president Kathryn Sims said the mortgage department once made the loans but gave up because they weren’t worth the trouble.

“We may have made one or two, and then discovered just how much was involved with them,” she said.

Such mortgages make up a tiny share of the mortgage market, bankers and regulators say.

Banks typically don’t promote the loans, which can be contentious.

Critics said the mortgages encourage illegal immigration, and banks should stop making them.

“It’s been illegal to hire undocumented workers in the U.S.,” said Bob Dane, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “But under the current laws, it is not illegal for a bank to provide a mortgage. But that doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t mean that the practice is helping us get illegal immigration under control.”

At the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors less immigration, spokesman Bryan Griffith said the bank rules don’t square with the nation’s efforts to round up and deport illegal immigrants and arrest employers.

“It’s a mixed message,” he said. “Basically what the government says is, once you get through the border control’s buffer, you are very unlikely to be caught. You can get a job; you can get a bank account; you can get a mortgage and never be caught.”

‘AN OPTION’

Bankers and bank regulators say it’s not their job to enforce immigration laws. (See the clearly written laws cited here)

Arvest, owned by the Walton family of Bentonville, is only following a path that federal banking laws and regulations plainly set out, Kincy said. He said the bank’s policy is also in keeping with its efforts not to discriminate.

“We don’t have an aggressive push to go after those loans,” he said. “But as customers come to us, that’s an option we can provide.”

Arvest requires that borrowers meet the requirements of IRS information-reporting regulations, he said.

Asked if the bank would make a mortgage loan to a borrower who openly disclosed he was an illegal alien, Kincy said lending money to illegal aliens wasn’t the goal of the bank.

Arvest’s mortgage applications ask prospective borrowers to check “yes” or “no” if they are a legal U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, he said.

He added, however, that “loan requests may not be denied solely due to a person not being a U.S. citizen or a resident alien.”

ANB Financial, formerly known as Arkansas National Bank, has a similar approach. The bank originates Individual Taxpayer Identification Number loans under a program offered by Bank of Bartlett, a Memphis area bank that aggregates and services such loans, said Mary Alice Granata, vice president of real-estate operations for ANB.

She said ANB follows the guidelines for the Bank of Bartlett’s program, which aims “to help America’s immigrant and un-banked populations attain home-ownership.”

Under “Eligible Borrowers,” the guidelines list only “nonpermanent resident aliens” and “citizens and permanent residents” - people in the country legally. But the guidelines add that “proof of legal residency is not required.”

Granata said ANB has made only “three or four” mortgages under the program.

LOANS ACCEPTABLE

Kevin Mukri, spokesman for the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates federal banks, said they are well within their bounds to make mortgage loans to illegal aliens.

“The bank does not enforce immigration policy for the United States,” Mukri said.

Although the USAPATRIOT Act requires banks to “know their customer” and verify IDs, it specifically authorizes the use of either an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or a Social Security number, he said.

It’s wrong to assume that everyone showing up for a loan without a Social Security number is an illegal alien, he noted. “Some people for religious reasons won’t have a Social Security number,” he said. “Some are on student visas.”

One reason more banks don’t make mortgage loans to those without Social Security numbers has nothing to with immigration. The loans aren’t easy to sell, said Anna Paulson, a researcher in the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Center for the Study of Financial Access for Immigrants.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-sponsored companies that buy mortgages to help the market work, won’t buy such mortgages, Paulson said.

At Legacy National Bank, Ray Segura, vice president of lending, said he was discouraged by the high interest rates typically charged to such borrowers.

“I don’t believe in gouging people’s eyes out,” he said.

Segura said his bank had an interest in making the loans but couldn’t find an investor to buy them.

Arvest, the state’s largest bank and No. 1 mortgage lender, keeps 98 percent of the mortgages it makes, so it doesn’t face that obstacle.

No one answered the door of the Reyes home on a recent afternoon, and an attempt to secure an interview through an intermediary failed.

The mortgage documents show that Arturo Reyes Sr., Serafina Reyes, Arturo Reyes Jr. and Silvia Reyes took out a $418,500 15-year mortgage on their house in Rogers in June 2006.

Arvest charged an initial rate of 8 percent, well above the national average of 6.3 percent for 15-year fixed mortgages at the time, according to Freddie Mac.

After five years, the rate was to reset to an adjustable rate floating above an index based on U.S treasury prices. A cap set the maximum rate at 14 percent.

Front Section, Pages 1, 11 on 01/27/2008

RICO -- Citizen Recourse

Private persons and entities may initiate civil suits to obtain injunctions and treble damages against enterprises that conspire to or actually violate federal alien smuggling, harboring, or document fraud statutes, under the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO). The pattern of racketeering activity is defined as commission of two or more of the listed crimes. A RICO enterprise can be any individual legal entity, or a group of individuals who are not a legal entity but are associated in fact, AND CAN INCLUDE NONPROFIT ASSOCIATIONS.

 

 

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