Washington, May 5 (efe-epa).- A lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in the name of seven children of immigrants accuses the Donald Trump administration of intentional “discrimination” by excluding the US-born children of undocumented immigrants from receiving stimulus checks being sent out to aid Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The complaint, filed in federal court in Maryland against Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the US government, contends that these US citizens have been denied the stimulus money solely because one or both of their parents are undocumented immigrants.
In March, Congress approved and Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included financial assistance for millions of people to be distributed via the tax system.
The legislation authorized eligible people to receive up to $1,200 per adult and up to $500 per child under age 17, ordering the Treasury Department to distribute the funds as quickly as possible.
According to the plaintiffs, who are being represented by the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University in Washington DC, up until April 28 the government had distributed the payments to 89.5 million people totaling almost $160 billion.
To undertake the distribution of the funds, the government uses the Social Security Numbers of the beneficiaries, which are included on people’s yearly tax returns. Undocumented immigrants, who lack SSNs but do pay taxes, receive an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
The CARES Act excluded undocumented immigrants from the emergency aid and the government has not sent checks to homes where one or both adults are undocumented.
In those cases where one member of the couple is a US citizen and has a SSN, but has filed a tax form jointly with their spouse who is identified with an ITIN, no checks have been distributed.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said last Friday that there are 1.2 million US citizens in this country who are married to an immigrant without legal residency documents and many of these immigrants have children who have been born in this country and who, therefore, are American citizens.
Because of this “lack of empathy,” there are children who currently are going hungry and this is a “form of discrimination,” the senator said.
In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs contend that the refusal to distribute the stimulus checks to children who are US citizens undermines the goal of the CARES Act to provide aid to Americans who need it and frustrates the efforts of the act to reactivate the economy.
The 28-page lawsuit has been filed in the name of seven children, all of whom are US citizens and whose parents have been denied stimulus checks.
The complaint demands that the court declare the refusal of US authorities to distribute CARES payments to children who are US citizens but whose parents are undocumented immigrants “unconstitutional.”