President Joe Biden’s plans for families and jobs aim to “build back better” and create a more inclusive economy. To fully live up to this ideal, the final plan must include undocumented migrants and their families.
The president’s proposals have overwhelming public support, and polls show voters want to adopt tax fairness measures to help fund investments in health care, education, child care, housing and infrastructure. The American Families Plan (AFP) improves two popular tax credits – the Working Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) – proposals that will dramatically reduce poverty and provide a significant economic boost to workers and families with children. Undocumented migrants are absent from these transformational policies.
To be clear, helping families should not be transactional. In other words, we should not determine the worth of a person – citizen or undocumented – based on an unspoken formula about what they contribute to our economy. But in reality, undocumented migrants pay taxes like everyone else who lives and works in the United States. They pay taxes on purchases, goods and services. For federal and state income taxes, non-citizen workers use what is known as an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). A 2017 ITEP report found that undocumented immigrants pay an estimated $ 11.7 billion in state and local taxes each year, and the new US economy estimates An additional $ 18.9 billion paid in federal taxes.
Throughout 2020, undocumented migrants and their family members who are U.S. citizens have been excluded from federal aid designed to alleviate COVID-related straits (cash payments, rent relief, unemployment benefits, vouchers). power supply, etc.) even though they were. Workers disproportionately considered essential. At the start of the pandemic, the CARES law also denied federal assistance to mixed-status families, when one or more people in a household do not have a social security number (SSN). This meant that citizen spouses and children of non-citizen taxpayers were also excluded.
Almost a year after the start of the pandemic, mixed-status families found support through the CASH law of December 2020, which allowed all eligible people with a valid SSN, regardless of the citizenship status of the household, qualify for new cash payments of $ 600 and retroactively receive payments of $ 1,200 sent under the CARES Act. Biden continued in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP), which distributed checks for $ 1,400 to eligible people and their dependents. Yet the plan still excluded ITIN reporters and their non-citizen children.
Activists across the United States are calling for comprehensive immigration reform that dismantles punitive agendas and center-oriented people-centered policies that fully recognize all families. These policies include legislation on essential workers, a path to citizenship, the re-establishment of due process in immigration courts and the inclusion of undocumented migrants and their families in economic policy.
There are clear and positive economic contributions from ITIN filers and non-citizen households. A new Center for American Progress report notes that a better path to citizenship would stimulate economic growth, raise wages for all workers and create nearly half a million new jobs. Earlier this year, I joined economists and academics across the country are calling for permanent immigration protections and a path to citizenship.
“… we are writing to you today to encourage you to consider the economic, fiscal and public policy rationale for including a provision in the President’s upcoming economic and employment stimulus package to provide a pathway. access to citizenship for undocumented people, especially those in jobs deemed essential. critical infrastructure in the country during this pandemic and their families, as well as Dreamers and people with temporary protection status. Such a policy would increase wages and productivity throughout the US economy, create jobs, generate additional tax revenue, strengthen protection for immigrant and native workers.
Congressional Democrats are weighing options for advance immigration policy through reconciliation. From a tax policy perspective, unless there is comprehensive immigration reform, there are two ways to ensure that no one is left behind. First, policymakers can overturn a punitive provision in the Trump-GOP tax law that tied the Child Tax Credit (CTC) to citizenship status. Prior to the 2017 law, children in eligible households could receive the CTC regardless of their nationality, but the new rule requires an SSN for a child to be eligible for the credit. Action by Congress can restore credit to approximately 1 million children and their families. Second, Congress should include ITIN filers in the proposed expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The temporary extension of the EITC under the ARP and the proposed permanent extension previously left out young and old adults without children at home. A truly inclusive EITC would also extend to low and moderate income ITIN filers.
Policymakers do not have to look far for plans to achieve a more inclusive immigrant recovery. Colorado lawmakers last month passed the first All-inclusive state CTC accessible to all young children, regardless of their citizenship status. And last year Colorado was the first state of the country to extend its state-level EITC to ITIN reporters. California last year also extended its state EITC to include undocumented workers. Washington, New Mexico, Maryland, and Oregon are joining the list of states expanding state-level tax credits to ITIN filers this year.
Advocates in New York have put forward a plan to reach workers ineligible for federal COVID relief or state unemployment benefits. State lawmakers have approved $ 2.1 billion to reach these workers, many of whom are undocumented. An Institute of Economic Policy report concludes that the program will reach nearly 300,000 workers and can easily be replicated in other states. California has also distributed cash payments to more than 150,000 undocumented residents excluded from the CARES law of March 2020.
There is a marked shift in the way policy makers recognize the contributions of immigrant communities, mixed-status families, and undocumented Americans. The Biden administration and congressional lawmakers can build on this momentum and set the agenda for future policies that recognize and value all of those who contribute to a strong economy and who inhabit this country.