As Americans eagerly anticipate the possibility of a secondStimulus Control Thanks to the HEROES Act recently passed by the House of Representatives, approximately 1.2 million US citizens were excluded from the first and did not receive stimulus assistance, mainly because of who they married.
“We needed it as much as anyone needed it,” Wisconsin nurse Katelyn Jimenez told Adriana Diaz of CBS News.
Jiménez’s husband Samuel saw his hours at his restaurant work being cut due to the coronavirus blockade, and the couple had CARES Law funds to help them and their two girls overcome the pandemic.
However, the packagewho filed a joint tax return if one spouse lacks a social security number, even if the other spouse is a U.S. citizen.
Samuel Jiménez had recently received his green card and social security number after a seven-year process, but not in time for the stimulus verification, which means they and their children received no benefits. There are an estimated 3.7 million children who are US citizens or permanent residents in mixed-status families, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
“I just felt like it didn’t matter as a family,” said Katelyn Jiménez. “We would have returned that money to the economy.”
She said she felt it did not matter in her own country.
Although Samuel eventually found another job in landscaping, the couple’s 11-year-old daughter said she still cares about him.
“It makes me nervous that he gets sick when he goes to work,” she said.
The CARES Act not only excluded Americans with undocumented spouses, but also many legal immigrants with visas and foreigners married to Americans abroad. Although it did make an exception for active duty members married to immigrants without social security numbers, activists say veterans in this situation did not receive stimulus checks.
The exclusions sparked widespread outrage and families across the country..
Vivian R. Khalaf, an attorney representing a plaintiff in a lawsuit in Illinois, said more than 6,000 people have registered on her website to be part of the possible class action lawsuit. “We receive an entry on the website every two minutes,” Khalaf told CBS News last month. Another lawsuit was filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) in California.
More than 15,000 people have joined a mixed-status family Facebook group that advocates for change.
“In a way, it makes me feel like a second-class citizen, just who I got married to,” said an Illinois woman named Laurie.
Like Jiménez’s situation, Laurie’s husband is undocumented and does not have a social security number. The individual tax ID number you use to pay your taxes each year is not enough, but it would be under the HEROES Act, which would guarantee payments to all American taxpayers.
On Thursday, Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Thom Tillis introduced a bill to allow US citizens in mixed-status families to receive stimulus payments retroactively. But the HEROES Act faces a tough uphill battle in both the Senate and the White House, leaving families like Laurie and Katelyn hanging in uncertainty.
“I don’t think any other country really does this during a pandemic or crisis,” said Laurie.
She said the couple’s 15-month-old daughter’s exclusion from receiving anyit was “the most painful part”.
“… How could you punish a child who was born here?” she asked. “Like an innocent child.”