President Trump signs the stimulus legislation in the Oval Office. (Associated Press)
Don Antonio Lugo High School

Opinion: Undocumented immigrants should be included in coronavirus relief package

After a near-unanimous vote by Congress, President Donald Trump signed into action a $2.2 trillion economic rescue package as a result of COVID-19 impact on the economy as well as the people. This stipend money will go to businesses, health care providers, and families that have been affected by this National Emergency, according to the L.A. Times.

While this stimulus package seems to be a great thing to all that will receive it, no one is considering the millions of undocumented immigrants who will not receive this money and will essentially be left to fend for themselves.

Rather than make the stipend available to all taxpayers (most immigrants pay taxes because it helps them gain legalization), the money is only available to people with social security numbers — which undocumented immigrants do not have, according to CNN.

So, while immigrants go out of their way to pay taxes and make up about $23.6 billion of what is paid in taxes annually, they don’t get to reap any of the benefits.

That means that during this economic drought and global pandemic, immigrants can’t apply for unemployment or get healthcare. Nor will they receive the $1,200 that could potentially put food in their cabinets, as also reported by CNN.

What most fail to consider is that not all immigrants are illegal. People here on work visas or with Green Cards are not eligible for this money either, because they have tax IDs (ITINs) and not social security numbers.

Essentially the government has taken these people’s money but still refuses to give them any of the benefits they deserve. If you don’t want to give people the ability to access basic human rights, such as healthcare, then don’t accept their money.

I understand American’s unwillingness to provide these benefits or this stipend to undocumented immigrants — they believe this stuff should only be provided to American citizens.

However, immigrants have to pay thousands of dollars in fees just to apply for legalization, getting papers can take years and it’s nearly impossible for undocumented people already living in the U.S. to gain documentation (even if they were brought here as a child.)

“People from countries with high levels of immigration to the United States — Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines — generally have the longest waiting times for immigrant visas. For example, both married and unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens from Mexico and Filipino siblings of U.S. citizens must wait more than 20 years for a visa to become available,” according to the American Immigration Council website.

There is also an argument that they should just “go back to where they came from.”

First of all, there is a global pandemic, no one can just up-and-leave to another country. Not only that, but the majority of people can’t afford to pick up their entire lives and move to another country just because others feel like they don’t deserve to be here.

If these people are paying billions of dollars in taxes but can’t gain any of the benefits, then that means they cover citizens Social Security and Medicare. So while some people have this “we have to pay for them being here,” narrative, it is really the other way around.

This stimulus package should be based on who pays taxes and contributes to America, not who has a social security number. Rather than bailing out Wall Street with at least $2 trillion, we should be expanding this economic rescue package to at the very least cover all people who pay taxes.

While some will be lucky enough to receive this $1,200 stipend, take time to consider the millions of taxpayers who are out of a job and are not extended this courtesy.