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Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) has called on the federal government to provide payment to illegal immigrants as part of the continuing efforts to provide financial relief to those affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Appearing on Univision last week, Espaillat said that illegal immigrants deserve stimulus checks from the government as well. In the segment, a Univision narrator said, “Republicans have refused to include people without social security numbers in the relief measures.” A clip of Espaillat is then shown, where he said, “Millions of undocumented [immigrants] who work hard, and they’re outside on the streets now exposing themselves to getting sick, should also receive this kind of protection.”
This was a step further than what Espaillat previously supported. His office issued a press release on March 23 urging the federal government provide relief checks to people who file tax returns with individual taxpayer identification numbers instead of just those who file with social security numbers. This would mean those who qualify would have some documentation with the federal government.
“We must put meaningful resources into the pockets of those hardest hit by the coronavirus. However, the current economic stimulus proposal is limited to one-time cash payments that exclude immigrant taxpayers who do not have a social security number, which will have an immediate impact on their citizen children and spouses,” Espaillat said in the release.
“In order to resolve this issue and ensure all individuals, particularly lower-income individuals and families, receive needed relief, we ask that individuals who file tax returns using Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) are included in the final stimulus package,” he added.
Immihelp, an organization that provides information about green cards, visas, and other immigration information, lists a number of factors for someone to qualify for an ITIN:
Non-resident alien who is required to file a US tax return
US resident alien who is (based on days present in the US) filing a US tax return
Dependent or spouse of a US citizen/resident alien
Dependent or spouse of a nonresident alien visa holder such as H4 visa holder
Nonresident alien claiming a tax treaty benefit
Nonresident alien student, professor or researching filing a US tax return or claiming an exception
ITINs are for federal tax filing only and do not make someone a U.S. citizen or authorize them to work in the United States. It also doesn’t qualify them for social security benefits.
There are a number of issues with Espaillat’s demands, chiefly the idea of the federal government providing checks to noncitizens when our country is in turmoil. By limiting those who would receive checks to individuals who pay federal taxes, however, it might make sense since the people are contributing to the federal government that is now issuing checks to the people who paid those taxes.
This is not the only issue that comes from using tax returns as a way to dole out federal cash, even though that is probably the quickest way. The federal government is using 2018 federal tax data, which is the most recent available. This means that people who have lost income or their jobs may not get a stimulus check if their 2018 income was too high.