Republican COVID-19 Relief Plan Hurts Immigrant Families and Children

August 12, 2020 | New York

The current Republican proposed relief package (HEALS Act) precludes millions of immigrant families from receiving stimulus checks. Like the GOP’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) passed on March 27, 2020, the economic relief in the HEALS Act does not apply to individuals without Social Security numbers (SSN)

The CARES Act revealed the devastating effect on immigrant families and children when they are left out of stimulus payments. The CARES Act left out

  • All adults who lack a SSN, even if their children have SSNs or their spouse has a SSN and they file jointly; 
  • All adults who have a SSN but whose spouse lacks one (if they file jointly); 
  • Children who don’t have SSNs, including children who are undocumented, children who are in the application process for certain immigration statuses, and young people who have met the requirements for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) but have not yet obtained a SSN; and 
  • Children who have SSNs – including large numbers of U.S. citizen children – if one or both of their parents lacks a SSN. 

As a result, over 15 million people – including about 5 million children under 17 years of age, about 87.5% of who are U.S. citizens – in low- and middle-income immigrant families who would otherwise receive a full rebate are excluded from stimulus payments. 

Individuals who work outside of their home increase the risk of spreading COVID-19 to us all. A high percentage of essential workers are immigrants. Without stimulus payments, many immigrants are forced to leave their homes to work, putting themselves at high risk of contracting the virus and endangering everyone with whom they are in contact. Giving immigrants no choice but to leave their homes to earn an income simply fuels the current public health crisis. 

The GOP’s proposed plan will continue the devastating impact that the CARES Act has on immigrant children and families. By neglecting to include immigrants in the stimulus payments, immigrant households will be at a heightened risk of contracting and spreading the virus, and potentially for increasing food insecurity and reducing household income as well. 

We urge Congress to prioritize immigrant children and families in its COVID-19 relief proposals. Congress must help protect our vulnerable populations who are suffering the most amid the global pandemic.