Letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Charles Schumer Urging Fix to COVID-19 Relief Bill

Letter to Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer Urging That Provisions in COVID-19 Relief Bill Excluding Immigrant Families, Including U.S. Citizen Children, Be Fixed

Signed by Nearly 650 Organizations


The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker, United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Minority Leader, United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

March 20, 2020

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer,

We are writing to urge you to address two major provisions of the proposed COVID-19 relief bill that will exclude millions of immigrant families, including U.S. citizen children. We cannot protect the nation from the Coronavirus and its economic impact if we deny health care and financial relief to a large segment of our communities.  The virus and its effects do not discriminate based on immigration status, and neither should relief efforts. Immigrants are front-line workers leading the response to the pandemic in the arenas such as public health, agriculture, food preparation and delivery, and cleaning and maintenance. Moreover, effective public health responses require attention to all community members, as a pandemic response that excludes any members of our communities will weaken its effectiveness. None of us can be healthy if any of us is denied access to testing and care.

As written, the bill includes two provisions that require urgent fixes for immigrant communities affected by this public health and economic crisis. A core provision of Congress’ plan to provide free COVID-19 testing to “everybody” would leave out millions of low- and moderate-income immigrants, and the tax rebate proposal currently excludes mixed-status families and ITIN tax filers.

HEALTH CARE EXCLUSION

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s Medicaid state option for the uninsured excludes some green card holders and many other people who are lawfully residing in the US. Federal Medicaid is available only to certain a subset of immigrants who have had a “qualified” immigration status for five years, “humanitarian” immigrants, military/veterans and their families, and in some states, lawfully residing children and/or pregnant women. Many lawfully residing immigrants — including people granted DACA, most lawful permanent residents during their first five years in that status, survivors of crime granted U visas, people from certain Pacific Island nations,  and people with TPS–along with those without status, are ineligible for federal Medicaid.

SOLUTION:  Revise section: Emergency Medicaid for Suspected COVID-19 Infections

Ensure that during this public health emergency, testing and treatment of health conditions is provided by Medicaid for all who need it, regardless of their immigration status.

TAX REBATE EXCLUSION

The proposed bill leaves out tax filers who have worked and earned income like other taxpayers covered by this bill by excluding households whose tax returns include taxpayers or children who file with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). These families include U.S. citizen children and spouses who are also harmed by the COVID-19 crisis. This exclusion of mixed-status families and individual ITIN filers is both deeply unfair and will  exclude families hardest hit by this emergency. It could also make it more difficult to ensure that families can shelter in place, to protect public health.

To fully address this crisis and the economic hardships that people will endure, we need to treat all workers who have contributed to the economy and are also devastated by this economic downturn.

SOLUTION: Amend Relief for Individuals, Families, and Businesses Title I: Rebates and Other Individual Provisions

Ensure that all persons who file taxes with a Social Security Number or other individual taxpayer number as defined under 26 U.S.C. 6109 can apply for the rebate.

Thank you for your leadership in these challenging times.

Sincerely,

[ Signers are listed in the downloadable PDF — click on PDF icon, above. ]