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Under a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package passed by US Congress recently, mixed-status immigrants families will be eligible for stimulus checks. Households with undocumented immigrants will now receive funds that they were denied following the first round of relief in the spring.
The latest bipartisan agreement means that US citizens and green card holders will be granted $600 in direct aid, even if they filed a joint tax return with an undocumented spouse. Further $600 checks will also be issued for each dependent child a household has, according to congressional aids and the text of the latest legislation.
Additionally, the new relief package would retroactively make mixed-status families, with at least one person with a Social Security number, eligible for the $1,200 per household and $500 per child checks that are allocated under the CARES Act, which came into effect in March.
Checks phased out
For individuals with a gross income higher than $75,000 in 2019, heads of households earning more than $112,500 and couples who made $150,000 or more, the $600 checks are not issued.
The latest relief package, approved by the Democratic-led House and Republican-controlled Senate with bipartisan backing, is expected to be signed into law by President Trump.
Steven Mnuchin, the Secretary of the US Treasury, said that eligible US citizens and residents could start receiving checks in the week after Christmas.
However, under the new legislation undocumented immigrants and other non-citizens without a Social Security number who file a tax return separate from their spouse, will not be eligible for coronavirus stimulus checks. Meanwhile, US citizen children whose parents don’t have a Social Security number are also disqualified from aid.
The latest pandemic stimulus package formed part of a huge $1.4 trillion spending bill that will fund the federal government for a year.
The historic CARES Act, enacted in the spring, excluded mixed-status couples from direct financial relief on the grounds that a joint tax return filing must be made by two people each with a Social Security number.
According to non-partisan think tank, the Migration Policy Institute, there are an estimated 1.4 million spouses and 3.7 million children in mixed-status families who are citizens of the US or have legal status.
The exclusion of many people from the CARES Act back in March sparked widespread criticism and led to several lawsuits on behalf of US citizen parents and children in mixed-status households.
The provisions added to the latest relief package were backed by Republicans and Democrats, including Marco Rubio and Thom Tillis.
Rubio, a Florida-based Republican, told CBS News: “Fixing the provision that denied some eligible American citizens from receiving a federal stimulus check under the CARES Act was an oversight that needed correction.”
“No American should have been blocked from receiving federal assistance during a global pandemic because of who they married,” Rubio added.
Meanwhile, Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader echoed Rubio’s comments saying: “It was unfair and absurd that millions of taxpayers in need of assistance to feed their families, many in the immigrant community with US citizen children and working on the frontlines, were previously denied access to these survival funds.”
“I am pleased we were able to extend this economic lifeline to additional families in need.” Schumer added.
Relief for mixed-status families not sufficiently inclusive
While many advocates welcomed the latest relief package for mixed-status families, they said that the eligibility criteria for stimulus checks was not ‘sufficiently inclusive.’
In a statement issued by Kerri Talbot, the director of federal advocacy for lobbying group the Immigration Hub, she said: “Given that there are 5.5 million immigrants working on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis as essential workers, Congress should provide protection to all tax filers in regardless of US immigration status.”
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