A handful of House Democrats Friday pushed for stimulus checks for taxpaying unauthorized immigrants after nearly 200,000 were excluded in the first round.
The 34 members expressed in a letter to top Congressional Democrats and Republicans that it was “unfortunate” the previous $2 trillion stimulus package bypassed those who use Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, the New York Daily news reported.
The identification numbers are used only for certain non-residents, according to the Internal Revenue Service website:
An ITIN, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, is a tax processing number only available for certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who cannot get a Social Security Number (SSN). It is a 9-digit number, beginning with the number “9”, formatted like an SSN (NNN-NN-NNNN).
Under the CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion package signed back in March, only immigrants with Social Security Numbers that met “certain residency requirements” were covered, Vox added. Because of this, many unauthorized immigrants, as well as temporary visa holders, missed out on the $1,200 payments.
The letter, addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, emphasized the importance of supporting taxpaying undocumented immigrants, claiming they are “essential workers who risk their own lives,” the New York Daily news wrote.
“Making these funds available to those with ITIN numbers is long overdue, and I urge congressional leaders to do everything possible to ensure that immigrants, many of whom have been essential workers during the coronavirus outbreak, are not excluded again,” Rep. Grace Meng of New York told the Daily News.
“They too have been hit hard by the crisis and deserve relief just like millions of American citizens do. We must not turn our backs on them.”
Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nydia Velazquez, Jerry Nadler, Jose Serrano and Yvette Clarke are among those who backed the letter, according to the outlet.
Here’s what you need to know:
Although Both Sides Agree on Another Round of Checks, ITIN Payments Is Just One of Many Unresolved Issues
Negotiators need to hunker down and focus on “tense disagreements over far more sweeping issues,” the New York Daily News writes, citing unemployment benefits, state government bailouts and food assistance.
The outlet disclosed that Pelosi, as well as the letter’s other addressees, met behind closed doors Friday to work toward reaching a middle-ground on the next stimulus package — which would include the checks.
A “Democratic source” told the Daily News that Pelosi and Schumer have been advocating for the ITIN provision, but “Republicans are likely hard-pressed to agree to it, as they were strongly opposed to the idea last time around.”
In May, House Republicans failed to strike the provision compensating unauthorized immigrants from the HEROES Act, according to Vox.
The $3 trillion coronavirus relief package “would make taxpaying immigrants and their families eligible for federal stimulus funds regardless of their legal status,” the outlet wrote.
Vox said the bill would retroactively make “unauthorized immigrants and their families eligible for the first round of stimulus checks.” It would also include them in the second round, with payments of up to “$1,200 for each tax filer and each of their dependents, depending on household income.”
At Least 197,000 New Yorkers Who Use ITINS Did Not Receive First-Round Checks
The New York Daily News reported in April that the unauthorized workers were bypassed due to language “inserted into the legislation by Republicans.”
Michael Zona, a spokesman for Sen. Chuck Grassley, said Republicans only wanted to pay those with Social Security Numbers in order to avoid “illegal immigrants from qualifying for a U.S. taxpayer-funded program,” according to the outlet. He added that the restriction would “reduce fraud and abuse.”
The Daily News shared that ITIN users are taxpayers, which Zona failed to mention.