Most undocumented people living in the country illegally file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and are therefore not eligible for federal help given the way the bill was written.
The move by California comes as an amendment to the $2.2trn CARES Act has already been proposed by three congressional representatives. New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has also given her backing to the move to help undocumented tax payers.
In a tweet, Ms Ocasio-Cortez said: “If you don’t believe undocumented workers should have access to relief during #COVID19, does that mean you’re willing [to] return the billions they pay in taxes each year? Will you defund your schools?”
“Or, in this moment, will we recognise that we should just take care of each other?” she said.
Those in the country illegally who pay taxes will also be ineligible for the increased unemployment benefits portion of the CARES Act.
California representatives Judy Chu and Lou Correa, and Maryland’s Jamie Raskin, introduced the Leave No Taxpayer Behind Act to amend the stimulus bill and issue cash payments to everyone with an ITIN.
Mr Correa said: “I was appalled to learn hardworking, taxpaying immigrants were left out of the $2 trillion CARES Act. These taxpayers work in critical sectors of our economy, like agriculture, and contribute greatly to our country. While many of us sit at home, these hardworking immigrants are still at work in our hospitals, our fields, and countless other industries.”
He adds: “The coronavirus doesn’t care about a person’s wealth, job, or immigration status. By casting out immigrants, we are placing some of our most vulnerable residents in grave danger. Every individual taxpayer, irrespective of citizenship status, needs government assistance now.”
Approximately 2 million people live illegally in California, according to the California Latino Legislative Caucus, which has asked Governor Newsom to create a “Disaster Relief Fund” to cover cash payments to immigrants until the emergency proclamation is lifted.
On Tuesday, Governor Newsom said that “all of that is being considered” as part of a broader package he plans to unveil in May.
That legislation will include “some economic stimulus strategies at a state level, not just waiting for the federal government to do that for us.”
“Californians care deeply about undocumented residents in this state,” the governor added.
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