Millions of essential undocumented workers are being denied stimulus money, Huff Post reports.
“This failure by Congress underscores how our country continues to treat undocumented workers as disposable,” said Monica Ramirez, president of Justice for Migrant Women.
An estimated 9.3 million undocumented workers have been excluded from stimulus eligibility, according to the National Immigration Law Center.
“It is appalling and immoral to praise essential workers yet fail to provide them with the urgently need COVID-19 financial relief because of immigration status, especially when they serve as the backbone of this country,” Ramirez added.
The coronavirus relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan, has left immigrant workers — deemed essential — without federal aid, said the March 9 article.
Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for Social Security numbers and are given Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITIN). This contributes to the exclusion of coronavirus relief benefits, reported the article.
“Paying taxes was getting me ready for the opportunity to become a U.S. citizen. I worked for six years prior to my incarceration. So that I could pay taxes every year, the IRS gave me a PIN number and I felt good contributing to the country. So why should my family suffer because we’re immigrants?” said Pablo Ramirez, a San Quentin resident.
This historic relief package of $1.9 trillion has as- sisted millions of Americans and legal resident immigrants with Social Security numbers. They received payments of $1,400 for each individual who made less than $75,000 a year or less than $150,000 for couples with children. Illegal resident immigrants received nothing.
“I feel discarded and voiceless; it’s like we have no value in this country,” said Ramirez.
Undocumented are not given the credit or recognition that they deserve based on the jobs that they are willing to do under any conditions, compared to the average American who refuses to work in the fields or working as a dishwasher and getting paid less, Huff Post reported.
“We may be illegal residents, but thanks to us, the illegals, you always have vegetables at your tables,” said Jose Villanueva, a SQ resident.
Villanueva recalled how he used to work throughout the rainy seasons. It was almost impossible for him to walk in the thick muddy fields picking and packing lettuces, while the trucks got stuck in the mud.
“At 17, I came to the U.S. and life became somewhat complicated because of the language barrier,” said Rolando Tut, a San Quentin resident. “I wanted to work. Being a minor made it almost impossible.”
Tut worked part-time as a dishwasher and when he turned 18 he worked in construction and landscaping. He also picked grapes under hard conditions in the summer.
During the pandemic, the Latino and Black communities were disproportionately affected; studies have shown that they are about three times as likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 as White people and twice as likely to die, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.
Tut said he was disappointed to be denied relief funds after paying taxes for nearly a decade.
In December 2020, Congress approved relief money to undocumented immigrants married to American citizens, the story reported.
Also for the first time, U.S. citizen children of undocumented parents who filed taxes with their Immigrant Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs) are now eligible, ac- cording to the article.
According to Ramirez, Tut, and Villanueva, other Americans can file for unemployment; undocumented residents don’t qualify for these benefits, and it has left them and their families without the financial support they feel they deserve.