New Child Tax Credit Will Extend Benefits To Many Immigrant Parents

The benefits of the expanded child tax credit — which some experts have deemed the largest anti-poverty program in decades — will extend to certain unauthorized immigrants and their families.

Starting Thursday, most U.S. families began receiving monthly payments from the IRS of up to $300 per child, as stipulated in the coronavirus relief measure pushed by President Joe Biden and passed by Democrats in March. Recipients will include immigrants residing in the country illegally but whose children have Social Security numbers.

The policy marks a departure from the bulk of the government safety net programs that sprang up during the COVID-19 pandemic — including enhanced unemployment benefits and last year’s coronavirus relief checks — which excluded unauthorized immigrants. That exclusion meant that in Georgia, nearly 90,000 U.S. citizen children and children with legal status didn’t receive assistance from the March and December 2020 relief packages because their parents were unauthorized immigrants, according to a report from the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank that evaluates migration policies.

“Our community is hardworking but also lives day-to-day. A lot of the choices they make have to do with how to pay for food, or how to pay for rent,” said Vanesa Sarazua, founder and executive director of Hispanic Alliance Georgia, a nonprofit based in Gainesville that aids immigrants.

How can unauthorized parents receive the new child tax credit?

In order to claim the child tax credit for their eligible children, immigrant parents must have an IRS-issued Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

The taxpayer IDs are used by unauthorized immigrants to file taxes. In 2019, unauthorized immigrants in Georgia used the ID numbers to pay over $850 million in federal, state and local taxes, according to the New American economy, a bipartisan research and advocacy organization. Mixed-status households — whose members include people with different citizenship or immigration statuses — that have filed taxes in 2019 or 2020 will receive the child tax credit the same way everyone else will: via automatic direct deposits for those who have bank accounts, or checks in the mail.

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