A Republican senator has proposed that the extension of unemployment benefits could be offset by cutting federal aid to millions of children of undocumented immigrant parents.
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced an amendment to a Senate bill that would reinstate unemployment insurance to 1.3 million out-of-work Americans. The amendment, designed to appease the reactionary right of the GOP, would mandate that undocumented immigrant parents produce a Social Security number when they claim the Additional Child Tax Credit.
On the Senate floor Senator Ayotte claimed that the Tax Credit was being claimed by:
“[P]eople who are claiming a refundable tax credit for children who should not be entitled to it. Many of these children do not even live in the United States or may not even exist.”
As is so often the case when it comes to the Republican/Tea Party war on welfare, this is a lie. It is believed some 4 million children born in the United States rely on the Additional Child Tax Credit. Since its purpose is to keep them out of a level of poverty that would disgrace a Third World country, the authors of the bill believed that the status of the child’s parents should be irrelevant.
To take that in to consideration would be to punish children for something over which they had no control: where they were born.
Attacks on undocumented immigrants have become one of the nastiest forms the war on welfare has taken in recent years. It speaks to the depths the GOP is prepared to go on this issue that former president George W. Bush was forced to shelve an immigrant amnesty plan because of deep-seated opposition from within his own party.
The spurious claims that immigrants are parasites on the American economy appeals to the crudest and most base form of nativism and xenophobia, and merely seeks to distract attention from the real parasites in the American economy: the ruling classes, whose tax evasion, avoidance and corporate handouts absolutely dwarfs the amount lost to welfare fraud and overpayments.
Further, undocumented immigrants are contributors to the American economy. Despite their floating legal status, they are still required to pay federal taxes, and it is estimated that undocumented immigrants pay $13 billion in payroll taxes, as well as $10.6 billion in state and local taxes. Very often these taxes come out of the income of people working in some of the lowest-paid and least-protected job sectors in the country.
The Additional Child Tax Credit can quite literally be the difference over whether a family can afford to eat or, at a time like this, afford to heat their home.
h/t: Think Progress