AOC attacks GOP over coronavirus stimulus bill as it does not grant cash to illegal immigrants

AOC attacks GOP over coronavirus stimulus bill as it does not grant cash to illegal immigrants
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Getty Images)

The Senate recently passed an economic stimulus package of $2 trillion — the largest in recent memory — to help Americans who have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic. But not all are convinced that the announced economic relief will help everyone. New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has slammed the Republicans saying the package does not take into consideration people who are living illegally in the US. 

Ocasio-Cortez aka AOC, who is also seeking re-election this year, said in a tweet on March 26: "To clarify, $1200 checks are ONLY going to some w/social sec numbers, NOT immigrants w/ tax IDs (ITINs)."

"Thanks to GOP, these checks will be cut off the backs of *taxpaying immigrants,* who get nothing. Many are essential workers who pay more taxes than Amazon," she added.

According to the fresh Congresswoman, Trump and the GOP-controlled Senate have held hospitals, working people and the vulnerable hostage so that they could get $500B in corporate welfare. The firebrand socialist leader accused the GOP of refusing to fund hospitals and unemployment without the backing of Wall Street and she called it "inhumane". 

On March 25, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said under the relief package, single people earning below $75,000 will get $1,200 as "direct payments" while married couples will get $2,400 and parents $500 for each of their children below 17. As per the Tax Policy Center (TPC), about 90 percent of the households, which amounts to 165M, would benefit. 

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues ITINs to taxpayers who are not eligible for a Social Security number, mostly because they stay in the country illegally. American citizens, legal permanent residents and those having immigrant work visas are eligible for the Social Security numbers for purposes of tax return. The immigrant advocates are upset that the unauthorized immigrants will not receive any cash benefit under the stimulus package even though they file taxes. 


Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks as members of the media practice social distancing during a news conference at the US Capitol on March 17, 2020, in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

Democratic Congress members back AOC

Adriano Espaillat, also a Democratic representative from New York, seconded AOC in a tweet saying: "We must put meaningful resources into the pockets of those hardest hit by the coronavirus. Immigrant families must be included!"

Pramila Jayapal, a Democratic representative from Washington, said any stimulus package which doesn't support immigrants is not serving the purpose of a stimulus package. According to a report in Daily Mail, it was not clear whether AOC, a member of the 'Squad' or any of her Democratic colleagues has a plan to obstruct passage of the bill if their demands were not addressed. 

On March 27, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has decided to hold a vote but will be forced to use a procedural loophole since the body is not in session. She has plans to hold a voice vote, seeking 'yays' and 'nays' from anyone present in the chamber. But it could be stopped if any member objected saying there isn't a quorum, the report added.


Meanwhile, a report in the National Public Radio said although the Trump administration took a major step in the form of the relief package, the timeline of the checks actually hitting the bank accounts of the affected is not certain.

Checks won't reach beneficiaries anytime soon

Experts suspect that it may take months before the benefits start reaching people although it has been promised that it will be done in the next three weeks. "It really depends on what information the IRS has on you," Kyle Pomerleau, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning Washington DC-based body, told NPR.

Pomerleau estimated the earliest the payments will go out is three to four weeks after approval. People, who receive tax refunds through mail, will have to wait longer, the report added. 

"I don't think physical checks will be in the mail for another three to four months," Pomerleau said, citing delays in the system that happened in 2008 when the government last issued national stimulus payments under the presidency of George W Bush. Then, the relief package was signed into law in February but the delivery date for people whose checks went through the mail was only between May and July. 

Pomerleau also cautioned that people who did not file returns in 2018 would be left out unless they filed the return for 2019 fast.

Janet Holtzblatt, a senior fellow at the TPC, is of the opinion that the IRS' infrastructural challenges could see even more delay. "It takes several months to get a program like this up and moving," Holtzblatt was quoted as saying by NPR. She also said that the delivery pace of the payments will also depend on how the disease is going to affect the IRS members' capacity.


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