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New GOP bill from Marco Rubio would give stimulus checks to families with unauthorized immigrants

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  • Rubio introduced a bill that would give mixed-status families with unauthorized immigrants a $1,200 stimulus check.
  • People who filed a tax return with a non-citizen spouse had been barred from getting government cash under the CARES Act passed in March.
  • But the bill doesn’t widen eligibility to people with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers get a stimulus check, which leaves out many unauthorized immigrants.
  • Up to 15.4 million people in mixed-status families were excluded from receiving the stimulus checks, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Sen. Marco Rubio introduced a bill on Thursday that would provide stimulus checks to mixed-status families with unauthorized immigrants, who were left out of the initial wave of direct payments several months ago.

The legislation — which was co-sponsored with Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina — would allow people who filed tax returns with non-citizen spouses to receive the $1,200 check. They were barred from getting the cash under the CARES Act passed in March.

“No American should be denied a federal stimulus check because they are married to a foreign national who is not a U.S. citizen,” Rubio said in a press release. “Amid a global pandemic, we must ensure Americans are receiving the funds appropriated by the federal government to keep families afloat during this national crisis.” 

The measure from Rubio and Tillis reflects the rising tempo of debate on an economic relief package set to be put forward next month. President Donald Trump approves of another round of stimulus checks, but Republicans are deeply divided on whether it’s needed to boost the economy. 

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Nearly three months ago, Congress and Trump authorized direct payments up to $1,200 for each American citizen earning under $75,000 a year, or $150,000 for couples, as long as they had a Social Security number. People could get an additional $500 per dependent child under age 17.

The requirement for a Social Security number shut out many unauthorized immigrants from receiving the government money, a similar step taken when the Bush administration approved a round of stimulus checks in early 2008.

Up to 15.4 million people in mixed-status families were excluded from receiving the stimulus checks, according to the Migration Policy Institute. That estimate includes 1.2 million American citizens married to unauthorized immigrants.

However, Rubio’s bill wouldn’t permit people with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers to get the money, leaving out many unauthorized immigrants who aren’t in mixed-status families.

Democrats support additional stimulus checks for Americans, and the measure was included in the $3 trillion spending package that passed the House last month. In the plan, recipients would only need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, opening the door for unauthorized immigrants paying taxes to get federal cash.

That element of the Democratic legislation invited fierce criticism from Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last month.

“Another round of checks for illegal immigrants. Can you believe it?” the Kentucky Republican said in a speech on the Senate floor. “We forgot to have the Treasury Department send money to people here illegally. My goodness, what an oversight. Thank goodness Democrats are on the case.”

The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan federal watchdog, said on Thursday that the Treasury Department and the IRS sent 160 million payments amounting to $269 billion as of May 31.

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