Stimulus Misses Two Key Immigrant Groups: Children and Spouses. They’re Suing.

Stimulus Misses Two Key Immigrant Groups: Children and Spouses. They're Suing.
(Victoria Pickering / Flickr)

U.S. children of immigrants and Americans married to immigrants—both of which are groups without Social Security numbers—filed lawsuits against the Trump administration to get their deserved stimulus payments, after being disqualified from the package passed in March.

Children of Migrants Sue Trump Administration Over Coronavirus Aid Denial 

The Trump administration is being sued for denying U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants the coronavirus stimulus aid. Seven children and their parents are suing on behalf of millions denied. 

The $2.2 trillion CARES Act distributed $1,200 to individuals making up to $75,000 per year—plus $500 per child.

But 11.3 million individuals living in the U.S. are being denied aid over their immigration status or that of a family member—since, in order to be eligible, both spouses that file joint tax returns must have Social Security numbers, which are unavailable to these undocumented parents.

Stimulus Misses Two Key Immigrant Groups: Children and Spouses. They're Suing.
(Victoria Pickering / Flickr)

“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,” according to the complaint.

Denial of Aid to Citizens Married to Immigrants

Another lawsuit against the Trump administration targets the denial of aid to U.S. citizens married to immigrants—as both spouses who filed a joint tax return must have a Social Security number to receive the aid. Without that pair of Social Security numbers, families are not eligible to receive their stimulus checks.

(Undocumented immigrants receive individual taxpayer identification numbers, or ITINs, from the IRS, which allows them to pay taxes without legal status.)

Approximately 1.2 million Americans are married to immigrants who don’t have Social Security numbers, says the lawsuit.

The lawsuit argues that denying a U.S. citizen spouse coronavirus aid stimulus is unconstitutional—especially considering an exception for mixed-status households was made for military families only.

“Discrimination based on the fundamental right to marry is presumptively unconstitutional and subject to strict scrutiny,” it argues.

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California dedicated $125 million to help those affected by stimulus denial as a result of their immigration status. In return, a conservative group called Center for American Liberty is suing Governor Gavin Newsom for distributing government aid to individuals lacking legal immigration status.

As immigrants make up more than one-third of California’s labor force, denying their communities aid may have stark consequences. 

Immigrants and their relatives have historically been hit by recessions harder than any other group, and the COVID-19 economic collapse is no different. 


Audrey Andrews is a Ph.D. student in anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is an archaeologist, runner and feminist. Audrey graduated from Columbia University.