Government sued over immigrant children not receiving COVID-19 checks

Government sued over immigrant children not receiving COVID-19 checks
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A group of U.S. citizens whose parents are undocumented immigrants are suing the government for being denied relief money from the coronavirus stimulus bill that was signed into law in March.

The group filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court on Tuesday, arguing that their exclusion from the relief package is unconstitutional.

"The refusal to distribute this benefit to U.S. citizen children undermines the CARES Act’s goal of providing assistance to Americans in need, frustrates the Act’s efforts to jumpstart the economy, and punishes citizen children for their parents’ status — punishment that is particularly nonsensical given that undocumented immigrants, collectively, pay billions of dollars each year in taxes," their lawsuit reads.

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The lawsuit was filed in Maryland's federal district court by the Georgetown University law school's Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection on behalf of the group.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act pays out up to $1,200 to eligible adults and up to $500 for each of their children. But in order to receive the money, beneficiaries must have Social Security numbers, which undocumented immigrants lack, meaning their children can't obtain the stimulus checks even if they are American citizens.

The lawsuit argues that undocumented immigrants have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic's toll on the economy. They largely work in low-wage jobs and are ineligible for unemployment insurance, making the $500 relief payments crucial for families headed by undocumented parents, the class-action complaint argues.

One of the plaintiffs, identified only as Norma over security concerns, says that she lost her job in a restaurant that was shut down because of the pandemic and she has no way to get relief money for her son who was born in the U.S.

“I have lost my job, and in my home three adults have the coronavirus; none of us are working,” Norma said in a statement released through her lawyers. “My son is an American citizen, and we need him to receive the CARES Act benefit to provide food and a roof over his head until this difficult moment passes.”

The lawsuit alleges that the exclusion violates the equal protections in the Fifth Amendment and asked the court to rule that the group is eligible for relief payments.

A spokeswoman for the Treasury Department, which is named in the lawsuit as a defendant, did not immediately respond when asked for comment.