Stimulus plan seeks to bar illegals from tax credit
By Julie Hirschfeld Davis
The Associated Press, January 29, 2009
Washington, DC (AP) — Illegal immigrants without Social Security numbers could not get tax credits under the $800 billion-plus economic stimulus package making its way through Congress.
A senior GOP congressional official expressed concern today that the bill could steer government checks to undocumented workers, but in fact the measure prevents anyone without a Social Security number from claiming tax credits of $500 per worker and $1,000 per couple. It also expressly disqualifies nonresident aliens.
The Republican spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. But Democrats were quick to reject the notion.
'This legislation is directed toward people who are legal in our country. It is about time the Republicans got a different piece of reading material and get off this illegal immigrant stuff,' said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. 'This bill has nothing to do with anything illegal as far as immigration. It creates jobs for people who are lawfully in this country.'
A revolt among GOP conservatives to provisions of last years economic stimulus bill, which sent rebate checks to most wage earners, forced Democratic congressional leaders to add stricter eligibility requirements. That legislation, enacted in February 2008, required that people have valid Social Security numbers in order to get checks.
The current plan imposes the same limits for the tax credit as are in place for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a program for low-income workers.
Republicans have already criticized the economic recovery package for including what they argue is wasteful spending and omitting tax cuts for wealthier people and businesses they say are needed to jump-start the anemic economy.
Not a single Republican voted for an $819 billion version of the plan when it passed the House on Wednesday.
GOP senators voiced their concerns at a midday news conference.
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., criticized the tax credit which would go to millions of Americans who dont make enough money to pay federal income taxes as insufficient to stimulate the economy.
'Calling a rebate to people who dont pay income taxes a tax cut doesnt make it a tax cut,' Kyl said.