Topic Page: Covid-19 and Immigration
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.
Here's what Law360 has to say about this issue:
Thousands of tax-paying immigrants won't be eligible for stimulus checks under the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package that sailed through the Senate, which excludes "nonresident aliens" and those without Social Security numbers.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act specifically mandates that people considered "nonresident aliens" won't be eligible for the $1,200 per adult and $500 per child benefit that Congress is hoping to slip into people's bank accounts sometime this spring.
It requires check receivers to have filed their 2018 or 2019 taxes with a "valid identification number", which the bill specifically defines as a Social Security number, although other taxpayer identification numbers exist.
That sounds all very appropriate, if hard on newly arrived legal immigrants who did not file both years. But it misses a very large variable — how IRS over the years has handled returns filed by illegal aliens with SSNs that I am convinced were not checked with the E-verify system.
My sense is that if a 1040 carries the same SSN as the employer's W-2 or 1099-Misc. that IRS does not take the next step, which is to make sure that the SSN used on the return is the same one that was issued to that worker. I know for a fact that some state income tax systems do not use E-Verify in this way, and have never been able to get a straight answer from IRS on his question.
So there are, I suspect, a large number of illegal aliens who have used purchased SSNs in this way over the year to get refunds from IRS. They, apparently, will get the stimulus checks as well.
This is both alarming — and not yet final.
What is needed in the currently planned distribution of the virus-related checks is a very simple decision that still can be made — but I fear that this is unlikely. The decision would be that everyone getting the stimulus package must have a Social Security number that was issued to that person. The non-utilization of that simple check — which would save the nations billions annually even before the stimulation program came along — does not reflect any presidential decision. It simply reflects the fact that this administration, like its predecessors, has not figured out that mailing refund checks to illegal aliens with crooked SSNs is a terrible financial and immigration policy, and could be stopped with a single phone call, from say, Stephen Miller, to the Treasury secretary.
IRS is unlikely to come up with this idea on its own. It is terribly under-staffed and under-funded and we are suggesting a new task for it. The civil servants that run the place are not interested in taking on what they regard as somebody else's job, immigration management. Further, the master agency, Treasury, has routinely resisted change in this area, and its Trump-era leadership is no different from the Obama-era appointees on this point.
So unless Miller picks up that phone, billions may be mailed to illegal aliens.
It's that simple.