Since the Senate passed the $2 trillion relief bill on Wednesday, immigrants and U.S.-born children with undocumented parents are struggling to survive the economic downfall from COVID-19 without financial relief and medical benefits.
The largest stimulus package in history only applies to low-income and middle class families, excluding immigrants without a social security card. Undocumented immigrants are ineligible to receive medical testing, unemployment insurance, loans for small businesses and a one-time check worth $1,200 from the bill.
Those included in the stimulus package are citizens, green card holders, DACA recipients and immigrants with temporary-protected status. Individuals falling under one or more of those four categories are eligible to receive benefits and the $1,200 stimulus check depending on their adjusted gross income for the 2018 or 2019 year. Families and individuals who make $75,000 a year will be considered to receive full benefits.
According to the Institute on Taxation of Economic Policy, in a recent 2017 report, undocumented immigrants pay $11.7 billion in state and local taxes. Most immigrants are also essential workers that work on the frontlines of a pandemic. Some have been laid off and are not able to file for unemployment.
“The [stimulus bill] is based on ignorance because the GOP believes that immigrants do not pay taxes,” said Miguel Orosco, a DACA recipient who quit his job as a server at Ovo Frito late January. After quitting, Orosco went on vacation for two weeks. When he returned, all restaurants were instructed to close because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I have a savings account that can get me through a few months of unemployment,” He said. “What the general population is getting from the stimulus package is not enough to cover or protect those who have been laid off since the pandemic.”
Although Orosco is hopeful that he will find a job in another industry, his chances of finding one during the pandemic are slim.
Othman Alazzam, a senior at Northeastern Illinois University, is a green card holder underwhelmed by the bill’s lack of clarity. Alazzam also remains unsure whether he will receive the benefits of the stimulus package.
“The details in the [stimulus bill] are unclear about who will qualify for benefits,” he said. “Politicians should not use this bill for their political benefit [to decide on who deserves stimulus checks or benefits.]”
Allazam lost his restaurant business when the stay-at-home order went into effect and has filed for unemployment. Although he is uncertain of the future, he is preparing himself for better days.
“I am worried about my parents [who are older and are immigrants], but I am sure we will get through this pandemic,” he said.
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