Lawmakers target child tax break for illegal immigrants
WASHINGTON — Republicans are looking to deny child tax credits to illegal immigrants refund checks averaging $1,800 a family in an effort that has roused anger among Hispanics and some Democratic lawmakers.
The proposal, which would require people who claim the federal credit to have Social Security numbers to prove they're legal workers, is being offered as a way to help pay for extending the Social Security tax cut for most American wage-earners. It would trim federal spending by about $10 billion over a decade.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the proposal unfairly goes after the children of poor Hispanic workers. Such children often are U.S. citizens, even when their parents aren't, because they were born in this country.
Leticia Miranda, senior policy adviser of the National Council of La Raza, said, "People who are making close to the minimum wage and are raising children in this country — and we're asking them to pay for the payroll tax cut?" She added, "It's outrageous, and it's crazy."
On the other side, Republicans and some Democrats say what's crazy is even having a debate over whether the government should be cutting checks to people who sneaked into the country illegally.
"We have rules about tax credits and benefits, and it seems to me they need to be applied fairly and across the board," said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. "If there are rules, they need to be enforced. I think it's just that simple. I don't think it's complicated."
Illegal immigrants have been barred from other refundable tax credits — in which low-income workers not only don't owe income taxes but receive payments from the government — such as the earned income tax credit. Such credits are a popular anti-poverty tool in part because a recipient has to hold a job to receive the benefit.
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