Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) slammed Democrats for pushing a $1.9 trillion aid bill through Congress while rejecting his amendment to block funds from going to illegal immigrants.
Cruz spoke on the Senate floor on Thursday, challenging Democrats to take up his amendment now that “it is clear” aid payments are going to illegal immigrants. Cruz also slammed Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) for accusing Cruz of lying about aid payments during debates over the spending package.
“It is clear and indisputable that a significant number of illegal immigrants will receive checks and are receiving checks right now. All 100 members of this body were misinformed by the Democratic senator that no illegal aliens would receive … stimulus checks,” Cruz said, referring to Durbin. “So I want to give my colleagues a chance to adopt the amendment now with the correct information, with the true information, with the factual information.”
“I would note as well, in these deeply partisan times, it’s easy for Republicans to throw insults at Democrats. Its easy for Democrats to throw insults at Republicans. Far too much of that occurs,” he continued. “The senator from Illinois, who is a friend who I’ve served with for nine years, the talented senator, I am not here suggesting that when he stood up and spoke on the Senate floor and said things that were absolutely false, that he did so knowingly and maliciously. I would certainly give the senator from Illinois the benefit of the doubt that he was in error rather than deliberately misstating facts.”
“But the facts are now clear. We have a rule in this body, Rule 19, to reprimand any senator who impugns the character and integrity of another senator. I’m not going to seek refuge in that rule, although I think there’s an argument that I could.” Cruz said. “But I will say this that once the facts have been made clear, I hope my friend from Illinois will show the same principle Newsweek showed, to apologize, to say he was wrong for calling me a liar on the Senate floor and then going to Twitter to do so twice.”
Sen. Ted Cruz: "It is clear and indisputable that a significant number of illegal immigrants will receive checks and are receiving checks right now." pic.twitter.com/t1LOwD0snq
— The Hill (@thehill) March 18, 2021
Cruz and Durbin shared heated exchanges on and off the Senate floor while debating the $1.9 trillion spending package. Cruz introduced an amendment to prevent people who overstayed their visas and were living in the United States illegally from getting $1,400 stimulus checks that were part of the COVID aid. Durbin accused Cruz of spreading falsehoods to “rile people up.”
Millions of illegal immigrants will receive stimulus checks under the Democratic aid package, according to Newsweek. Anybody with a social security number and paying taxes in the United States as a resident is eligible for a check, according to Newsweek, which fact-checked Cruz’s claim on stimulus checks.
“Technically, if they have overstayed their visa, they are here illegally,” a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman told Newsweek. “If a visitor has not been granted an extension of status by USCIS [United States Citizenship and Immigration Services], then they are considered to be overstays and subject to deportable status under 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.”
Newsweek went on to report that “Cruz’s claim that millions of illegal immigrants would receive stimulus payments is true, given the amount of people who have overstayed their visas over the years. Once they overstay, they technically are considered ‘illegal.’”
Durbin’s office disputed Cruz’s claim in a statement to Newsweek.
CBP’s limited data sample of overstays and other estimates of visa overstay numbers do not contain the numbers of tax filers with SSNs who overstayed visas. It is simply false to assume that each visa overstayer has a social security number, for which the person must have been work-authorized to qualify for a SSN in the first place. By far the largest visa category of visas issued/visas overstayed each year (tourist/business B visas) according to DHS data do not qualify noncitizens to get a SSN.
Generalized visa overstay estimates do not reveal how many individuals have overstayed visas who were a) authorized to work, b) provided the documentation necessary to get a Social Security Number, c) did not subsequently get a green card or otherwise obtain a lawful immigration status, d) overstayed their visa, but e) continued filing tax returns with the IRS such that they now qualify for stimulus checks.
Additionally, a claim based on incomplete visa overstay data about the American Rescue Plan stimulus checks must also acknowledge that this hypothetical scenario (of stimulus checks going to visa overstayers with SSNs) would have applied just the same to the CARES Act and the December 2020 stimulus package, and is not a new or unique feature of the American Rescue Plan.