Under the newly-passed $900 billion pandemic relief bill, U.S. citizens and green card holders who are married to illegal immigrants will now be eligible for stimulus checks that they were denied under the previous round of COVID-19 aid.
Members of mixed-status households, meaning ones in which some members have Social Security Numbers (SSN) and some don’t, are now eligible to receive a $600 direct stimulus check as well as a $600 check per dependent child, despite being excluded from receiving $1,200 checks under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability, or CARES Act, which was adopted in March, according to the text of the legislation (pdf).
The new bill, which passed the House and Senate on Monday and is expected to be signed into law by President Donald Trump within days, also makes SSN holders in mixed-status families retroactively eligible for the $1,200 checks under the CARES Act via refundable tax rebate.
Immigrants in the country illegally and other non-citizens who are ineligible for SSNs would still be ineligible for stimulus checks under the new relief bill.
There are an estimated 5.5 million U.S. citizens or green card holders who who live in mixed-status families, according to the National Immigration Forum.
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) applauded the CARES Act fix in the new bill that allows previously excluded U.S. citizens from receiving stimulus money.
“This measure will ensure that a U.S. citizen is eligible to receive an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) if he or she is married to a foreign national who is not currently a citizen of the United States,” the two wrote in a statement. “This inclusion will apply retroactively as a refundable tax rebate and eligibility is also included for the next round of EIPs.”
“No American should have been blocked from receiving federal assistance during a global pandemic because of who they married,” Rubio said.
“I am proud this bipartisan legislation to fix this oversight will become law so hard-working North Carolinians receive the stimulus payment they deserve,” Tillis said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) echoed this sentiment.
“It was unfair and absurd that millions of taxpayers in need of assistance to feed their families, many in the immigrant community with U.S. citizen children and working on the frontlines, were previously denied access to these survival funds,” Schumer said, according to CBS. “I am pleased we were able to extend this economic lifeline to additional families in need.”
The new relief bill was tacked onto a $1.4 trillion catchall spending bill and thousands of pages of other end-of-session business in a massive bundle of bipartisan legislation as Capitol Hill prepared to close the books on the year.
The Senate cleared the massive package by a 92-6 vote after the House approved the COVID-19 package by a vote of 359-53.
The bill combines pandemic-fighting funds with financial relief for individuals and businesses. In addition to the $600 direct relief payments to families, it establishes a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants, and theaters and money for schools, health care providers, and renters facing eviction.
The 5,593-page legislation—by far the longest bill ever—came together Sunday after months of battling, posturing, and post-election negotiating that reined in a number of Democratic demands.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, one of the key negotiators of the bill, said on CNBC on Monday that the direct payments would begin arriving in bank accounts next week.