Have Immigrants, Need Charter
Dan Cote, who hopes to charter a credit union here and who has extensive experience in dealing with
"They don't know that first-generation immigrants present a lower credit risk than non-immigrants," asserted Cote,
Cote founded First Immigrant's Funding in 1995. The company's purpose: give mortgage loans to immigrants, who
Besides perceived cultural and language barriers, the fact that immigrants do not have an established credit history in
"I've been issuing mortgages to immigrants for eight years, and nobody has defaulted. Why? Because the first
"They will break their back before missing a payment."
Another factor is the extended family is alive and well in immigrant families, Cote explained. They have the pooled
Most immigrants have a negative association with all financial institutions-and credit unions are lumped in with
CUs need to be sensitive to an immigrant's fear of failure, said Cote.
"They don't want to be turned down, and many people in their communities have told them, 'What makes you think
When Cote markets mortgages, he places ads in ethnic media, but he said the best way to reach people is by working
Cote anticipates a healthy demand for member business services once New American gets its charter.
"Immigrants realize they are not going to get anywhere at $7 or $8 per hour, no matter how hard they work. They
Seattle has many immigrant groups, including Hispanics from many countries in Central and South America,
At First Immigrant's Funding the staff speaks a dozen languages. "It's like a little United Nations here," Cote
Cote said he first learned about the work ethic and behavior of immigrants when he hired a first- generation
"This person was Hispanic, and began educating me about how hard they work, how difficult it is for them," he said.
"When I first started my business, I did not have a clue how it would go-I didn't know how many people would