The letter, led by 27 Democratic senators, states that nearly 4.5 million people paid $23.6 billion in taxes using an IRS-issued Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). But because pandemic relief has covered only taxpayers who have a Social Security number, millions of undocumented workers have been cruelly excluded.
“As immigrant workers in hospitals, meat processing plants, farms, grocery stores, and elsewhere endure the hardships of this pandemic to provide for our most basic needs, we ask that you extend the coronavirus cash assistance Congress provided to include immigrant families who file taxes with an ITIN,” they wrote. “One way to address this issue would be to include the relevant provisions in the Coronavirus Immigrant Families Protection Act (S.3609), and the House-passed HEROES Act (H.R.6800).”
“At the very least, Congress should provide this crucial coronavirus cash assistance to spouses and children in mixed-status immigrant families,” they continued. In another awful twist, past legislation also blocked relief for U.S. citizens if they filed joint taxes with a spouse who uses an ITIN, shutting out millions of their U.S. citizen children in the process.
“According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 3.5 million children, many of whom are U.S. citizens, live in households with at least one ITIN filer,” senators wrote. “No one should be denied critical economic relief benefits they would otherwise be entitled to simply because they are part of a mixed-status family.”
Could this pass the Republican Senate? Marco Rubio of Florida has proposed a less impactful bill that would at least cover some of the mixed-status families. But what’s needed is relief for all families regardless of immigration status. Remember, our nation certainly takes their tax dollars without first asking about their legal status.
“Immigrants are disproportionately working in essential jobs to keep Americans healthy, safe, fed, and poised for economic recovery—often at great risk to their own lives and health,” senators wrote. “As Congress works to meet the urgent needs of our country in the face of a devastating public health emergency and an economic crisis, we strongly urge you to ensure that immigrant workers and taxpayers have access to vital cash assistance relief in the upcoming coronavirus relief legislation.”