Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the Trump Administration in response to a provision in the CARES Act that excludes certain couples in mixed immigration status marriages from its emergency relief payments. The $2 billion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, approved by Congress in March, provides $1,200 payments to U.S. taxpayers who earn as much as $75,000, plus $500 for each child. However, in order to qualify, both spouses in families that file joint tax returns must have Social Security numbers, unless one of them is a member of the military. That leaves out many U.S. citizens and their non-citizen spouses who do not have social security numbers or use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (or ITIN) to file taxes. ITINs are assigned by the IRS to collect taxes from workers who are ineligible to receive social security numbers.
About 1.2 million immigrants are married to U.S. citizens, according to the Migration Policy Institute. U.S. citizens and their non-citizen spouses are encouraged to jointly filed their tax returns because it helps to prove the legitimacy of the relationship to the government during the immigration process. But U.S. citizens in these particular mixed status marriages, as well as their U.S. citizen children, are not receiving the same benefits under the CARES Act as their fellow taxpayers.
But legal action is being taken. The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund filed a class action lawsuit in April on behalf of the American citizens who were denied payments because they’re married to ITIN holders. The suit names President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Acting Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin. The three authorized the exclusion and in doing so, have failed to treat the named plaintiff as equal to his fellow U.S. citizens, according to the lawsuit.
The second lawsuit focuses on children who are U.S. citizens and where one or both parents are undocumented immigrants. This lawsuit claims that denying these U.S. citizen children a stimulus payment is discriminatory and unconstitutional, and “punishes citizen children for their parents’ immigration status and treats them worse than similarly situated citizen children whose parents are U.S. citizens or immigrants eligible to obtain Social Security numbers.”
Many of our clients have been affected by this provision of the CARES Act and we will continue to provide updates on the status of this litigation.