Last month, I shared my disappointment with the federal government’s most recent coronavirus response package. While the CARES Act provided help to many people, it also left many behind. Millions of immigrants, children, and American citizens were wrongly denied the $1,200 economic impact payments or other provisions in new law based solely on how they file their taxes.
We need to change this and make sure every person and every family has the resources necessary to get through this public health crisis. House Democrats’ new bill, The HEROES Act, is a good start.
If either you or your spouse file taxes with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) and you file jointly, nobody in your household qualified for relief from the CARES Act – including your children even if they are U.S. citizens. The HEROES Act changes this policy and allows ITIN filers and their families to qualify for the first round of money under the CARES Act, in addition to a new second round of more substantial economic impact payments of $1,200 per family member, up to $6,000 per household.
Millions of taxpayers have lost their jobs, gotten furloughed or had their hours reduced and need assistance to cushion this blow. They should be able to benefit from the economic impact payments and not be punished for having an ITIN number.
In another win for our community, The HEROES Act expands Medicaid to cover COVID-19 related testing, treatment, and services for every individual, regardless of immigration status or if you have insurance. This also means that once a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, it will be available to everyone at no charge. And if you seek health care for the coronavirus, the services provided would not be considered for public charge purposes.
The HEROES Act also shields essential workers from deportation and even provides employment authorization for those in critical industries such as agricultural workers, meatpackers, and health care workers. Undocumented immigrants also comprise a large percentage of workers in construction, manufacturing, disinfection, and other industries that will be vital for our country to rebound from this health and economic crisis. If they are essential to keeping our country running throughout this pandemic and to its recovery, they should be treated as such.
These are challenging times. The COVID-19 pandemic paralyzed our country’s economy and disrupted the daily lives of millions of people, with no regard to citizenship status. That is why I made it a priority to guarantee economic relief, access to health care, and dignity for essential workers in The HEROES Act.
This piece of legislation is a step in the right direction. I am proud to have voted for it. It is now up to the U.S. Senate to do its job and provide crucial relief to the millions of families that need it.
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La congresista Nanette Diaz Barragán es una abogada y política estadounidense que se desempeña como Representante de los Estados Unidos para el 44 ° distrito congresional de California desde 2017.