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Millions of taxpaying immigrants won't get stimulus checks

The relief package that Congress approved to help Americans during the coronavirus pandemic has one major exclusion: millions of immigrants who do not have legal status in the U.S. but work here and pay taxes.

Posted: Apr 12, 2020 1:23 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — The $2.2 trillion package that Congress approved to offer financial help during the coronavirus pandemic has one major exclusion: millions of immigrants who do not have legal status in the U.S. but work here and pay taxes.

That includes Carmen Contreras Lopez, a 48-year-old housekeeper who, though she earns low wages, files a tax return each year. Since the virus took hold, she has lost most of her clients and is getting by with help from her oldest son. But she won’t see a penny of the money promised to most Americans in response to the pandemic.

“It’s hard because to the government, we don’t exist,” said Contreras Lopez, who has lived in the U.S. for 30 years and has four grown children who are U.S. citizens.

The government expects to begin making payments to millions of Americans in mid-April. Anyone earning up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income and who has a Social Security number will receive $1,200. The payment steadily declines for those who make more. Legal permanent residents, or green card holders, are expected to benefit.

Roughly 4.3 million mostly unauthorized immigrants who do not have a Social Security number file taxes using what’s known as a taxpayer identification number, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Many say they pay federal taxes because they hope it will one day help them achieve legal residency and because they feel it’s the right thing to do.

“We made that decision because we’re living in a country that’s welcomed us with a lot of love,” said Ingrid Vaca, a house cleaner in the Washington, D.C., area.

Vaca said immigrants take care of communities, children, the elderly and homes, but they will not receive any help themselves. Also left out are the workers' 3.5 million children, many of whom are American citizens.

“This is a nightmare to me and many of my colleagues," Vaca said, lamenting the lack of income for rent and basic necessities. "We need for us to be respected.”

Asked how immigrants without legal status will survive the pandemic's economic toll without any aid, President Donald Trump acknowledged the difficulty but said many citizens without work need help first.

“It’s a really sad situation, and we are working on it. I will tell you I’m not going to give you a hard and fast answer because I just want to tell you it’s something I think about,” Trump said.

Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation last week in the House and Senate that would allow immigrants to access relief funds.

“COVID-19 does not care about your immigration status, so neither should our response," U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, said in a statement.

Maria Zamorano, a day laborer in the Los Angeles area, has also been left without work. Until recently, she worked seven days a week cleaning houses, earning roughly $700 weekly. But all of her employers canceled services. After she did an interview with The New York Times about her situation, two of those employers decided to keep paying her, she said, but she doesn't know for how long. She's still short on cash for food, rent and bills.

“Like thousands of others who don’t have legal status, we are left empty-handed in this crisis,” Zamorano said. “I pay taxes, but the government doesn’t consider that we should get help.”

In rural Massachusetts, Jose Martinez said a pandemic stimulus check could have helped cover at least a month’s worth of expenses, if he had qualified. The 34-year-old Mexican crossed the border illegally about 15 years ago and lives near the Vermont state line with his 4-year-old American-born daughter.

Martinez, a house painter, says work has dropped off during the pandemic. His boss still owes him more than $500 for recent jobs, and the restaurant where he washes dishes part-time has also been temporarily shuttered.

“The check would have given me the opportunity to stay at home, avoid sickness and keep my family safe,” Martinez said, referring to the stimulus money. “But I have to keep looking for work and exposing us to risk. I don’t know what else to do.”

Luis Jiménez, a 35-year-old Mexican who takes cares of calves in New York, near Canada, said he feels forgotten by the government even though his work is vital to feed Americans.

“We are essential to the economy and to feed this country, but we don’t get any help or support,” said the father of three, who has lived in the United States without legal status for 16 years.

Jiménez, who lives with his kids and spouse, said he makes about $38,000 a year and pays about $6,000 in taxes annually. He has been paying them since 2005, he said.

“Every day we go to work and we are exposed to everything. In the farm, there are hardly any protection measures" against coronavirus, he said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 454989

Reported Deaths: 6163
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin943781502
Ramsey40624748
Dakota33540354
Anoka31357368
Washington20533237
Stearns18091190
St. Louis13970250
Scott1217799
Wright11791107
Olmsted1078075
Sherburne829669
Carver704439
Clay658884
Rice624274
Kandiyohi558072
Blue Earth548033
Crow Wing490478
Otter Tail464268
Chisago459538
Benton423688
Winona394548
Douglas379366
Nobles374647
Mower373729
Goodhue356863
Polk330760
McLeod328147
Beltrami315748
Morrison314545
Lyon305539
Becker288939
Itasca287343
Isanti285643
Carlton284043
Steele278910
Pine270315
Freeborn254123
Todd233730
Nicollet229438
Brown218034
Mille Lacs215645
Le Sueur214216
Cass210724
Meeker201333
Waseca193216
Wabasha17463
Martin171926
Roseau166417
Hubbard150738
Redwood141127
Houston140014
Dodge13934
Renville138440
Chippewa133032
Cottonwood129018
Fillmore12698
Wadena120818
Rock112012
Aitkin111433
Sibley10997
Faribault109416
Watonwan10688
Pennington101016
Kanabec99618
Pipestone96823
Yellow Medicine94916
Murray9117
Jackson87310
Swift84518
Pope7475
Stevens7078
Marshall70315
Clearwater68814
Lake66315
Lac qui Parle66116
Wilkin6339
Koochiching60610
Lincoln4912
Unassigned47369
Big Stone4693
Grant4388
Norman4258
Mahnomen4167
Kittson37420
Red Lake3204
Traverse2613
Lake of the Woods1961
Cook1160

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 311430

Reported Deaths: 4433
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46841465
Linn18065279
Scott15872172
Black Hawk14090243
Woodbury13129181
Johnson1230052
Dubuque11625159
Pottawattamie9166115
Dallas908972
Story881038
Cerro Gordo473572
Webster472477
Sioux459757
Warren459339
Clinton458168
Marshall431162
Buena Vista396330
Muscatine396178
Des Moines395143
Plymouth353270
Wapello350798
Jasper332859
Lee324632
Marion309353
Jones274950
Henry267131
Carroll258434
Bremer250148
Crawford234724
Boone222917
Washington222933
Benton213650
Mahaska197937
Jackson195032
Tama190259
Dickinson188829
Kossuth180644
Delaware176236
Clay172521
Wright167124
Fayette166024
Hamilton162330
Buchanan162224
Winneshiek160820
Harrison158562
Hardin157931
Cedar155619
Clayton153849
Butler151724
Page147115
Floyd141636
Cherokee140127
Mills138517
Lyon137533
Poweshiek135224
Hancock131924
Allamakee130930
Iowa127722
Madison123910
Calhoun12349
Grundy122628
Winnebago122229
Jefferson122125
Mitchell116837
Louisa116230
Cass115243
Chickasaw113712
Appanoose112640
Sac112215
Union111623
Emmet111332
Humboldt106819
Shelby105527
Guthrie104424
Franklin103618
Unassigned10160
Palo Alto92411
Montgomery89124
Keokuk86326
Howard85919
Monroe82220
Clarke8129
Pocahontas78211
Ida76030
Davis70321
Greene6977
Adair69620
Monona68518
Lucas66710
Osceola64711
Worth6194
Taylor5999
Fremont5246
Van Buren50215
Decatur4974
Ringgold45111
Audubon4228
Wayne42021
Adams3003
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