Children of Undocumented Parents Sue Federal Government for Discriminatory Denial of Stimulus Money
Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the federal government was to disburse up to $2 trillion to families who are eligible for stimulus checks. Each family was to receive up to $500 for each child under 17, on top of the $1,200 maximum payment per individual adults. However, the CARES Act requires anyone receiving the money to have a social security numbers. This rule has prevented families with at least one undocumented parent from receiving $500 for each of their children even if the children themselves are American citizens with social security numbers.
The parents paid federal and state taxes, and would meet all other eligibility requirements, according to their federal lawsuit filed in Maryland. The denial of federal benefit to these children is arguably unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause because they’re being treated differently from other children who are also American citizens.
The federal government initially moved the court to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the government was immune to such lawsuits because it involved a Congressional policy choice on the expenditure of federal money. Courts have usually determined that cases involving expenditure of federal money is a battle best left to the political branches. However, US District Judge Paul Grimm denied the government’s request to dismiss the matter on the grounds that the children of undocumented parents presented a clear argument that they were directly harmed after their parents were denied the children’s stimulus money.
Why Should Illegals Be Given Tax Payer Money?
First, the money is meant for children of undocumented immigrants under the age of 17. Although one or both of the parents may not be American citizens, children born in the United States are American citizens. If the government is paying $500 to each American citizen under the age of 17, then all citizens should be given the same amount. Children should not be excluded from a government benefit based on their parents’ immigrant status. No one chooses who their parents are and it would be profoundly unconstitutional to punish citizens for something they didn’t even do.
Second, the parents may not have a permanent immigration status, but they are tax payers. The parents pay their taxes to the IRS through an individual tax payer identification number (ITIN) in lieu of a social security number. The parents are contributing to the country’s tax base even if they will receive no social security benefits upon retirement. In essence, these undocumented parents are paying into the system without any expectation of a return in the form of social security. However, their children, who are American citizens, are entitled to the same benefits as other American born children. Moreover, most children under the age of 17 do not pay taxes so contribution into the tax system is an irrational objection to begin with. Finally, the Civil Rights Act prohibits private employers and organizations from discriminating against employees and customers on the basis of national origin (among other factors). The Civil Rights Act does not apply to a Congressional Act. However, it is not unfair to expect the federal
government to live up to the same exceptions it imposes on private businesses especially if such exceptions form the basis of the 14th Amendment. Discrimination based on a parent’s immigration status is arguably a form of national origin discrimination that has no place in our country.
Should I Contact an Immigration Lawyer?
Immigration matters can often be complex and difficult to comprehend. Applications may take several months or even years to complete. If you have any issues with immigration law or procedures, an immigration lawyer can assist you.