GOP Seeks To Deny American Kids Benefits Of Tax Credit Due To Parents' Immigration Status

January 13, 2012 12:07 pm ET — Salvatore Colleluori

Sam Johnson

With Congress preparing to return to Washington to discuss a yearlong extension of the payroll tax holiday, a new fight between Republicans and Democrats is emerging over how to pay for the tax relief both parties agree is necessary. Politico reported yesterday that Republicans were looking to find money by "denying child tax credit refunds to working-class immigrant parents who lack a Social Security number." The champion of this push is Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX):

"Last year, illegal immigrants bilked $4.2 billion from U.S. taxpayers due to a loophole with the refundable child tax credit," the congressman said in a floor speech following the Treasury's IG report. "With the dire need to cut government spending, I hope this simple fix gets a serious look as a way to stamp out waste, fraud and abuse."

Qualifying for the Additional Child Tax Credit doesn't require parents to have a Social Security Number — only an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, which is issued by the IRS, is necessary. Far from 'bilking' money from U.S. taxpayers, undocumented immigrants benefiting from the child tax credit are only receiving a refund because they have paid into the system. On the whole, undocumented immigrants actually contribute billions of dollars each year in local, state and federal taxes.

In addition, despite the implication by Rep. Johnson that undocumented immigrants are receiving a massive windfall, the tax credit amounts to just $1,000 per qualifying child. The benefit can only go to households where the child in question is a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or U.S. resident alien, meaning millions of American children benefited from the program.

This is another attempt by Republicans to deny American children benefits based on their parents' immigration status. Actions such as Rep. Johnson's fall in line with the likes of anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who introduced a birthright citizenship bill, and the Florida State Board of Education and Florida Board of Governors, who were both recently sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center because they were not granting in-state tuition benefits to some U.S. citizen college students whose parents were undocumented.

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