After a near-unanimous vote by Congress, Trump signed into action a $2.2 trillion dollar “economic rescue” package as a result of COVID-19’s impact on the economy as well as the people. This stipend money will go to businesses, healthcare providers, and families that have been affected by this national emergency. While this stimulus package seems to be a great thing to all that will receive it, no one is considering the millions of undocumented immigrants who will not receive this money and will essentially be left to fend for themselves.
Rather than make the stipend available to all that pay taxes (most immigrants pay taxes because it helps them gain legalization), the money is only available to people with social security numbers– which immigrants do not have. So, while immigrants go out of their way to pay taxes and makeup about $23.6 billion of what is paid in taxes annually, they don’t get to reap any of the benefits. That means that during this economic drought and global pandemic, immigrants can’t apply for unemployment or get healthcare. Nor will they receive the $1,200 dollars that could potentially put food in their cabinets.
What most fail to consider is that not all immigrants are illegal. People in America on work visas or with Green Cards are not eligible for this money either, because they have tax IDs (ITINs) and not social security numbers. Essentially the government has taken these people’s money but still refuses to give them any of the benefits they deserve. If you don’t want to give people the ability to access basic human rights, such as healthcare, then don’t accept their money.
I understand Americans’ unwillingness to provide these benefits or this stipend to undocumented immigrants– they believe this stuff should only be provided to American citizens. However, immigrants have to pay thousands of dollars in fees just to apply for legalization, getting papers takes years, there’s a 50,000 people cap on receiving asylum so the process is very extensive, and it’s nearly impossible for undocumented people already living in the U.S. to gain documentation, even if they were brought here as a child.
There is also an argument that they should just “go back to where they came from.” First of all, there is a global pandemic, no one can just up-and-leave to another country. Not only that, but majority of people can’t afford to pick up their entire lives and move to another country just because others feel like they don’t deserve to be here. If these people are paying billions of dollars in taxes but can’t reap any of the benefits, then that means they cover citizens Social Security and Medicare. So while some people have the mentality that “we have to pay for them being here,” it’s really the other way around.
This stimulus package should be based off of who pays taxes and contribute to America, not off of who has a social security number. Rather than bailing out Wall Street with at least $2 trillion dollars (yes, trillions of dollars), we should be expanding this economic rescue package to at the very least cover all people who pay taxes. While some of us are lucky enough to receive this $1,200 stipend, take time to consider the millions of tax payers who are out of a job and are not extended this courtesy.
This story was originally published on Quest News on March 27, 2020.