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  • The US Senate backed last month a US$2 trillion bill aimed at helping unemployed workers and industries hurt by the coronavirus epidemic.

    The US Senate backed last month a US$2 trillion bill aimed at helping unemployed workers and industries hurt by the coronavirus epidemic. | Photo: EFE

Published 21 April 2020
Opinion

“It’s just fundamentally unfair, and it’s really, really targeted to hurt,” said the president of American Families United, a nonprofit advocating for U.S. citizens married to migrants.

Millions of United States (U.S.) citizens are being excluded from the US$2 trillion coronavirus relief package because they are married to a migrant, local media including the Dallas Morning News and the Los Angeles Times have reported.

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The large group of those who won’t get help is made of citizens who file taxes jointly with a spouse using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), an identification issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to workers who don't have a Social Security Number.

People with ITINs comprise some who are undocumented and others who may be in the process of obtaining their documents.

“It’s the biggest slap in the face that the government left us out,” a woman who asked not to be named and whose husband is a Mexican citizen told Monday the LA Times. “It’s already such a stressful time. This just increases the stigma and feeling of shame. It feels like a very big betrayal.”

The ban not only denies the adults their one-time US$1,200 check relief but affects the whole household as a US$500 per child payment that was part of the CARES Act will also be refused, worsening the already extremely difficult economic situation for millions of taxpayers amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s just fundamentally unfair, and it’s really, really targeted to hurt,” said Randall Emery, president of American Families United, a nonprofit that advocates for U.S. citizens married to migrants.

“It’s such a basic thing that the government would protect its own citizens and the government is really abandoning U.S. citizens when they need help the most,” he added. “A lot of people really need this just to survive.”

There is, however, one exception regarding those married to migrant spouses serving in the U.S. military.

"It's a deliberately cruel carve-out," Manar Waheed, senior legislative and advocacy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union told the LA Times. "In creating an exception for military families, they very, very deliberately left all of these other people out of the cash rebate."

Senior policy analyst for the Washington D.C.-based Migration Policy Institute Julia Gelatt said "over 10 million people are affected" by the exclusion according to the Dallas Morning News.

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