Undocumented immigrants would not be eligible for the aid, judging by the information currently available on the new stimulus package, but mixed families would receive it.
The Senate approved early Friday morning a budget bill for fiscal year 2021 that paves the way for President Joe Biden’s proposed economic relief package. The House validated the measure hours later, also thanks to the Democratic majority.
The negotiation in the Senate lasted 15 hours and included an amendment introduced by Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Todd Young of Indiana to block undocumented immigrants from receiving the economic stimulus checks provided for in the relief package and valued at $1,400.
This restriction did not include families of mixed immigration status, who were left out of the first round of checks last spring.
“The Biden Administration should not reward illegal immigrants for violating our laws by giving them checks,” Cotton said in a statement, “Instead of courting foreigners with American taxpayer funds, the president should use that money to help American schools, businesses and families.”
In a first vote, the amendment passed by 58 votes (including eight Democrats) in favor and 42 against, but was removed from the final resolution.
During that final vote, Democrats reversed three votes won by Republicans to use the coronavirus relief plan to support a pipeline from Canada to the United States, allow hydraulic fracking for oil and gas, and ban checks to undocumented immigrants, according to Reuters news agency.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders criticized the amendment as “exacerbating the xenophobia that exists in this country, despite the fact that many undocumented workers are doing some of the most essential and dangerous jobs.”
Undocumented immigrants have been left out of the two rounds of economic stimulus checks. However, the second round did cover citizens with Social Security numbers who are married to an undocumented immigrant.
Biden’s relief plan contemplates maintaining the benefit for families with mixed immigration status, but does not initially include undocumented immigrants as possible beneficiaries of the third round of checks.
Once the proposal has been approved in the House of Representatives, Congress must now draft the final bill and vote to convert it, something the Democrats hope to achieve before the end of the month.
A group of 100 lawmakers, led by the Hispanic Caucus, urged House leaders to include in the coronavirus relief plan a path to citizenship for some five million undocumented immigrants who serve as essential workers.
However, according to Politico, this measure will be included in a far-reaching immigration reform, separate from the coronavirus-related legislation.
An analysis by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warns that immigrants face twice the risk of being affected by the pandemic as native-born individuals due to their limited access to health and labor rights.
Despite their vulnerability, more than two-thirds of undocumented immigrant workers in the United States have front-line jobs that are considered essential, according to a study released by the pro-immigration reform group FWD.US.