Phoenix, Arizona – The $ 2.2 billion package that the United States Congress approved to offer financial aid during the new coronavirus pandemic did not include a significant group of the population: millions of immigrants who reside in that country without legal authorization, but who they work in the country and they pay taxes.
Among them is Carmen Contreras López, a 48-year-old domestic worker who, while earning a low salary, files her income statement annually. Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Contreras has lost most of her clients and copes with the help of her oldest son, but she will not receive a single penny of the money promised to most Americans in response to the pandemic.
“It’s difficult because we don’t exist for the government,” said Contreras, who has lived in the United States for 30 years and who has four children who are US citizens.RELATED
The government hopes to start giving payments to millions of Americans in mid-April. Anyone with an adjusted gross income of up to $ 75,000 annually and who has a Social Security number will receive $ 1,200. The amount decreases for those who earn more. People with legal permanent residence, who have so-called “green cards,” are also expected to receive financial aid.
About 4.3 million immigrants, most of them without legal authorization and who do not have a Social Security number, file their tax return using what is known as a “taxpayer identification number”, according to with the Institute of Tax and Economic Policies.
Many say they pay their federal taxes because they hope that one day this will help them gain legal residency and because they believe it is the right thing to do.
“We made that decision because we live in a country that has received us with so much love,” said Ingrid Vaca, a domestic employee who works in the Washington, D.C., area.
Vaca said that immigrants take care of communities, children, the elderly and homes, but that they will not receive any type of public aid. The 3.5 million children of workers, many of whom are US citizens, were also left out.
“This is a nightmare for me and many of my colleagues,” said Vaca, lamenting the lack of income to pay rent and basic needs. “We need to be respected.”
Asked how immigrants without legal status will survive the pandemic crisis without any financial aid, President Donald Trump acknowledged the difficulty, but added that many unemployed citizens who do need to receive aid first.
“It is a truly sad situation and we are working on it. I am not going to give you a concise answer, but I will tell you that is something I think about, “Trump replied.
In rural Massachusetts, José Martínez said that a financial aid check for the spread of the disease could have helped him cover at least a month of expenses, if he had been eligible. The 34-year-old Mexican crossed the border unauthorized about 15 years ago and lives near state lines with Vermont along with his four-year-old daughter, born in the United States.
Martínez, who works painting houses, added that work has decreased during the pandemic. His boss still owes him more than $ 500 for recent jobs, and the restaurant where he washes dishes in a part-time job has been temporarily closed.
In most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that disappear in two to three weeks. In some people, especially older adults and those with underlying health conditions, it can lead to more serious illnesses, such as pneumonia, and even death. Most people recover.
Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill last week in the House of Representatives and the Senate that would allow immigrants to access their aid funds.
“COVID-19 does not care about their immigration status, and therefore it should not matter to our response,” said lawmaker Raúl M. Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona, in a statement.