Washington, DC, February 4, 2021 – Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said today that denying stimulus checks to undocumented immigrants is his top goal today as the Senate debates COVID-19 relief measures. Reliably anti-immigrant Sen. Tom Cotton is also stressing this red herring and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) is offering an amendment today (Amendment 54) ostensibly to deny checks to undocumented immigrants. Here they go again.

But here is the truth:

  • POLITICAL STUNT: It is already current law that stimulus checks are denied to undocumented immigrants, even if they pay taxes and head households that include U.S. citizens and permanent residents, so this is a political stunt aimed at Republican primary voters.
  • HURTS U.S. CITIZENS: An estimated 5 million U.S. citizens under age 18 live in households where at least one of the parents is undocumented, so in essence, the Republican Party has made denying any form of COVID relief to these U.S. citizen children their number one priority by denying payments to the entire American family if any member of the family is undocumented.
  • HURTS ESSENTIAL WORKERS: About half of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country serve in jobs categorized as “essential’ by the federal government, so any effort to exclude or target immigrants is a blow to the workforce helping America cope with COVID-19.
  • HURTS COVID-19 RECOVERY EFFORTS: Republicans would rather delay or derail COVID-19 relief to all Americans in order to send a message to their political base that they are anti-immigrant, after having spent millions on campaign ads with dog-whistle messages targeting immigrants and immigration.

Once again, we see Republicans prioritizing divisiveness and othering instead of providing COVID-19 relief to the American people. 

After four years of Trump’s relentless cruelty and millions spent by the GOP on xenophobic attack ads, the message is clear. Republicans hate immigrants, love power, and want to divide the nation into ‘us’ and ‘them’ to rally their white grievance voters. 

But here’s the problem for Republicans: this measure hurts U.S. citizens married to or who happen to be the children of immigrants. They are playing to the narrow cul-de-sac of voters who are motivated by the white supremacist messaging of Donald Trump and Stephen Miller at the expense of what all the rest of us who want – a COVID-19 package that’s big, bold, inclusive and fast. 

Stop spending so much time playing to the cheap seats, GOP. It may help you in primary fights, but it’s hurting you in general elections.

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