The Economic Stimulus Package Should Meet Immigration Policy Needs

By David North on March 27, 2020

Topic Page: Covid-19 and Immigration

Update 3/27/20: "It appears that the Internal Revenue Service, which tries to avoid immigration issues whenever it can, will be tasked with the distribution of the $1,200 coronavirus relief checks. I worry that large numbers of illegal aliens — those in the country for a couple of years — will get these checks." Read more...

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on 3/23/20.

The government is about to send out maybe a hundred million checks or more — possibly for $1,000 each — to help restore the virus-shattered economy.

Let's do it in a way that encourages illegal aliens to leave the country.

Let's not, as we have done with some other programs, unwittingly pay illegal aliens to stay here. I am thinking about the way the Additional Child Tax Credit program used to operate — ACTC being part of the income tax system; it gave tax refunds to illegal aliens without thinking.

The government wants to send out the money in a hurry, and seems to worry that anything that refines such a distribution would slow down the outpouring of checks, and thus delay the restoration of the economy. This kind of rush-rush thinking could be counter-productive.

Further, I have not seen any discussion — though it must have occurred — on the database to be used in the mailing of the checks. If we simply sent the checks to taxpayers we would repeat the old ACTC mistake, and send money to illegals. If we send them to everyone on the Census mailing list, we would do the same.

With all that in mind here's my proposal:

  1. Let's send the checks to all registered voters; this means that they will go to an adult population (18 and over) that consists of citizens.
  2. Let's give adult green card holders the same checks after they apply for them.
  3. Self-identified illegal aliens, upon application, would receive a one-way plane ticket to their home country and, as they step off the plane, a check for $500 to $1,000 that can only be cashed in that country.

Politicians like to give benefits to voters, which will help get these provisions passed. There will be an equal treatment of citizens and legal immigrants, which should sooth some interests. No illegal aliens will get any money at all unless they leave the country. Some borderline populations such as those in DACA or in TPS (Temporary Protected Status) might be able to volunteer for the program aimed at the undocumented, though I doubt that there would be many takers.

Further advantages include:

  • There are existing lists of voters so no person-by-person decisions would need to be made;
  • It would encourage people to register to vote, as they could apply for the check after the fact of registering, if they did not make it the first time; and
  • It would give a boost to some of the airlines.

I worry that the distribution pattern will be adopted without any thought about paying illegal aliens to stay in this country when other factors — like the widening recession — might encourage them to go home. It may well be that the virus will have a greater impact — or at least a greater reported impact — on the United States as opposed to the homelands.