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Editorial: Distribution of stimulus funds exclude millions who deserve it

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Millions received government issued stimulus checks this month to ease the financial burdens caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, millions of others received nothing.

Undocumented immigrants have been laboring in the countryside, rain or shine, ensuring food makes it on the plates of hungry Americans. They have been working alongside American citizens in grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations, risking infection to support their families and keep society afloat.

Depriving families of aid based on immigration status, especially during times of crisis, is cruel and exclusionist. It is an act rooted in American Exceptionalism. But President Donald Trump’s nativist cult following contradicts itself when it calls the pandemic a hoax while simultaneously supporting his decision to put a halt to immigration for the sake of “flattening the curve.”

Immigrants and people of color have been treated as second class citizens for generations and this is proof that they are still perceived as such, despite them being the workhorses behind essential services during times of need.

Now the government says some U.S. born citizens are second class too.

A portion of tax paying Americans did not receive stimulus checks because they are married to immigrants without a Social Security Number. They are not even eligible for the additional $500 per child.

Some couples could have avoided this if the spouse who is a U.S. citizen had filed separately.

But how were they supposed to know that the government was going to exclude them?

The International Revenue Service states that individuals are eligible if they are “a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or qualifying resident alien” and must have a SSN that is valid for employment. Although, if one spouse is in the military then only one is required to have a valid SSN.

Despite beliefs that the Trump Administration is “draining the swamp,” its exclusion of those who America has excluded for centuries simply amounts to a continuation of the status quo.

America should care for all of its residents, no matter their marriage or “legal” status.

This exclusionary act is affecting many here in Riverside. International students and undocumented students at our very own Riverside Community College District will not be receiving any federal aid.

Students from mixed status families may also be excluded from receiving aid. Some U.S.-born students with undocumented parents may be left struggling as the economic fallout of the pandemic ravages their families’ finances. Although many disagree with birthright citizenship, the fact remains that such students are American citizens and are entitled to federal aid.

If it is to hold ground, the argument that stimulus money should be reserved for “real Americans” should be extended to the agricultural fields. Will those “real Americans” who are out of work be willing to work the farms for crumbs? 

The reality is that these people are here, they are working, and contrary to popular belief, many are paying taxes without ever seeing a return. They, like all in this country who are struggling, deserve aid.

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