As the COVID relief package moves to the Senate, Republicans and center-right voices are making the case for including immigrant families that pay their taxes like other American families. In addition, recently-released polling shows that such an approach is overwhelmingly supported by the public.
In previous COVID-19 relief bills, Congress specifically excluded mixed-status families. Specifically, any family composed of U.S. citizens and at least one member who does not have a Social Security number were left out. As a result, even families consisting of citizens and undocumented immigrants who pay their full share of taxes (undocumented immigrants pay federal taxes through the use of an IRS ID number called an ITIN) have been left out. Republicans, led by the Trump White House, have wanted nothing to do with relief that might end up in the hands of families with undocumented immigrant members.
In May, the House passed the HEROES Act, and Democrats insisted on including cash assistance to all taxpayers, regardless of immigration status. In fact, Democrats did so in the face of relentless demagoguery from GOP House members. Democrats overwhelmingly fought off a Republican “motion to recommit” that would have stripped this element from the bill, knowing full well that GOP operatives will distort the issue in 30-second attack ads this campaign season.
The question now is whether mixed-status immigrant families will finally get some relief in the package under consideration. A number of voices from the right side of the political spectrum are speaking up.
Tampa Bay Times op-ed by Al Cardenas, “Don’t exclude these Americans from stimulus benefits.” Cardenas, the former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and current co-chair of the American Business Immigration Coalition, writes in his op-ed: “In the last three stimulus packages the Republicans have excluded U.S. citizen children and U.S. citizen spouses in families that have a parent who does not have a Social Security number. For a party that has repeatedly espoused the virtues of marriage to now impose a marriage penalty on U.S. citizens and their children is cruel and foolish … Imposing a marriage penalty on (voting) U.S. citizens, such as the 88,000 mixed status families here in swing state Florida, it is no wonder President Donald Trump is unpopular with roughly 75 percent of Latino voters nationally … It is no secret that our local economies are starving for cash after months of shutdowns and false restarts. With the fixing of this injustice, small businesses around the country could get a much-needed financial shot in the arm and hopefully keep their lights on long enough to survive.”
Miami Herald op-ed by leaders from Koch brothers-funded Libre Initiative-Florida and Americans for Prosperity-Florida, “Whom you’re married to should not determine eligibility for COVID-19 aid.” Cesar Grajales, Florida coalitions director of The LIBRE Initiative-Florida, and Skylar Zander, state director of Americans for Prosperity-Florida, wrote recently in their op-ed: “Ramon, who does not want his last name revealed, lives in Miami with his wife. Both are in their 60s. He is a U.S. citizen. His wife of more than 20 years, an undocumented immigrant from Honduras, does not have a Social Security number. He owns a business, contributes to the economy, pays his taxes. But, even though he is a U.S. citizen, his wife’s immigration status, kept him from getting a check under the direct-payment provision of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act … Penalizing a citizen or legal permanent resident by withholding a government benefit based on whom they marry is a violation of the bedrock American principle of equality under the law.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is stepping up on this issue by introducing legislation to include citizen adults from mixed status families. Rubio has said, “No American should be denied a federal stimulus check because they are married to a foreign national who is not a U.S. citizen. Amid a global pandemic, we must ensure Americans are receiving the funds appropriated by the federal government to keep families afloat during this national crisis.”
By 60% – 33% margin, a new poll finds Americans want to make undocumented immigrants eligible for federal financial relief if they file their taxes with a taxpayer ID number: New nationwide polling from Hart Research for CAP Action released this week finds that Americans favor cash assistance to undocumented immigrants who pay their taxes by a margin of 60% – 33%, with strongly favor coming in at .30% and strongly opposed registering at 22%
The following is a statement from Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:
Effectively fighting the ongoing pandemic and stabilizing our economy requires all of us working together, not falling into Trump’s ‘us vs. them’ trap. And all of us means all of us.
Mostly, Trump’s GOP views immigrants as ‘the unwanted other.’ In the context of COVID relief, this means that citizens who are members of mixed-status families, undocumented immigrants who pay their full and fair share of taxes, and essential workers who are risking their lives to save ours are deliberately excluded from the federal assistance other American families have come to count on during this economic emergency.
Congress must ensure that the next COVID-19 package includes a fix for all taxpayers regardless of immigration status. In the face of this tremendous public health crisis, we should not let election year politics and the cruel and relentless scapegoating of immigrants be a barrier to enacting relief that actually reaches the families and workers who are helping us all survive.
Senate Republicans should take the cue from fellow Republicans and treat all families with dignity. It’s the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.