By now, it is common knowledge that the CARES Act discriminates against undocumented immigrants. A few weeks ago, Secretary of Education Besty DeVos cut funding for DACA recipients in college, while the coronavirus has spread in the unsanitary conditions of detention facilities, where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement continues to inhumanely hold undocumented individuals
On March 27, President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion stimulus package meant to provide relief for American families. However, the Trump administration’s notorious sentiments on immigrants that have persisted throughout his presidency remained present in the package. In addition to excluding undocumented immigrants, the CARES Act also hurts family members of these immigrants as well. The act provides a $1,200 stimulus to individuals earning up to $75,000 gross income with a social security number and $500 for each child. However, this only counts if every individual in a family has a social security number — which hurts mixed-status families.
Mixed-status families means that some relatives hold different citizenship statuses so not everyone in the family has a social security number. Thus, if a married couple files taxes jointly and one doesn’t have a social security number, then that couple cannot receive any benefits from the CARES Act.
Rocio Perez writes about his family’s experience with the CARES Act, noting that his parents who are tax-paying undocumented immigrants won’t receive the stimulus check — and neither will his sister, a U.S. born citizen. For a brief period of time, Perez’s family relied on the income from Perez’s internship and had to tap into their family’s emergency savings — all while Perez’s parents have chronic diseases that make them more eligible to contract serious forms of the virus.
Sadly, Perez and her family aren’t alone. Many other mixed-status families have struggled because of the lack of assistance from the federal government.
There are approximately 11,300,000 undocumented immigrants in the U.S. — 67% of whom come from Mexico and Central America. Clearly, this alienation of family members that are U.S. born citizens move into the territory of benign racism against Latinx individuals. Throughout the Trump presidency, we have witnessed legislation and rhetoric that discriminates against undocumented immigrants. This time, the government is not only attacking undocumented immigrants, but their families as well.
This happens while undocumented immigrants have, and continue to be, important contributors to the American economy. During the pandemic, an estimated six million of undocumented immigrants are working in essential fields to provide vital services necessary to combat the virus.
22 million people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, but the Latinx population in particular has been hit the hardest. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 49% of Latinx individuals lost their jobs, had to take a pay cut or face both due to the pandemic, compared to 33% of all American adults. As a result, these groups are faced to worry about basic necessities, like groceries. Further, mixed-status families are hit hardest by these figures given that they’re more prone to living in poverty.
Other organizations, like the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund have filed lawsuits to promote justice for mixed-status families during the pandemic.
Undocumented immigrants can bring as many as 336,000 jobs to the American economy, have paid an average of $11.64 billion in state and local taxes each year and have funded nearly $300 billion into the Social Security Trust Fund. It’s unfair for undocumented immigrants to contribute billions of dollars into the American economy, even prior to the pandemic, for them to not to receive a $1,200 check from the federal government.
The current administration’s stimulus package has painted a facade to cater to a certain class, enabling the government to once again discriminate against immigrants. Given the financial contribution that mixed-status families have made, it is unjust for the government to leave them in the dark without federal assistance during a pandemic.
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Email Gabby Lozano at [email protected]