About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy
© GOOD Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.

US citizens with immigrant spouses won't get stimulus checks. That's just plain wrong.

American citizens who jointly file taxes with immigrant spouses aren't eligible for a stimulus check. The federal government's xenophobia will leave people hungry.

US citizens with immigrant spouses won't get stimulus checks. That's just plain wrong.
Image Source: The President And First Lady Attend Hanukkah Reception At The White House. WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 11. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

If you file your taxes jointly with your spouse who happens to be an immigrant, it is likely that you will not qualify for a stimulus payment from the government's $2 trillion relief package, The Los Angeles Times reports. At a time when residents of the United States don't know how to put food on the table owing to ongoing lockdowns, this is a major humanitarian crisis. The loophole has been deemed "fundamentally unfair" and a "deliberately cruel carve-out" by those who advocate for immigrants' rights across the country. Stories from American citizens who have been denied their stimulus payments are now pouring in.


Ashlee Ramirez, a registered nurse in a Baltimore emergency room, has spent the last month helping to intubate Coronavirus patients. She has even spent her own money to make DIY masks, face shields, and gowns after her hospital ran out of Personal Protective Equipment. As a frontline health worker, she risks her life every single day when she heads to work. Despite her sacrifice, she is yet to receive her stimulus payment from the federal government. Why? Because she is married to Fredy, a citizen of Honduras. Even though he received his Social Security number in January, the couple does not qualify for a stimulus check. "What does it mean when I pledge allegiance to the flag?" The nurse stated. "It’s supposed to be justice for all. I feel like that flag that I love so much has not stood for justice for me and my family."



Ramirez is not alone. All over the country, American citizens married to immigrants are being pushed to the margins because of the callous loophole. David Hessell-Cercado, a fourth-grade teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District in California, was just as disappointed and shocked to learn he would not receive a stimulus payment either. He had predicted his husband, a Mexican citizen currently in the middle of his green card application, would not receive one. However, he did not expect to not receive one himself. He affirmed, "Really? We’re here all in this together, but some of us aren’t apparently."



This is the universal experience for many Americans. As per the federal government's CARES Act, those who file a joint tax return with a spouse who does not have a Social Security number are excluded from receiving a stimulus check. Of course, millions of tax-paying immigrants who do not yet have legal status have also been blocked from receiving a stimulus payment. While other citizens earning up to $75,000 are entitled to a $1,200 payment, these individuals have been left high and dry. Randall Emery, the president of American Families United, a nonprofit that advocates for US citizens married to immigrants, called the decision to do so "fundamentally unfair."



"It’s just fundamentally unfair, and it’s really, really targeted to hurt," he said. "It’s such a basic thing that the government would protect its own citizens and the government is really abandoning US citizens when they need help the most. A lot of people really need this just to survive." Manar Waheed, senior legislative and advocacy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, added, "It’s a deliberately cruel carve-out. In creating an exception for military families, they very, very deliberately left all of these other people out of the cash rebate." While some states have launched special legislation, such as California Governor Gavin Newsom's $125-million relief package for immigrants without legal status, the majority of America's immigrants hold no hope when it comes to financial help from the federal government.



Their only ray of light may be Democratic Congressman Lou Correa Leave No Taxpayer Behind Act, which is an attempt to amend the CARES Act so as to make sure that all taxpayers, including immigrants, are eligible for their $1,200 relief check. Though bipartisan support for this amendment will be hard to come by, it is the only sliver of hope for many immigrants who live paycheck to paycheck. The pandemic may have shown us that we're all supposedly in this together, but it has only worsened our country's existing inequalities. We should be ashamed.



More Stories on Scoop