Bishop urges Congress to consider immigrants, refugees for coronavirus stimulus checks

The first round of stimulus checks helped millions of people meet their financial needs. Although the CARES Act offered stimulus checks to most Americans, it missed a few groups as well. Two such groups are immigrant and refugee families. To ensure that immigrant and refugee families are not left out again, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee has asked Congress to include them the next time they send coronavirus stimulus checks.

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Coronavirus stimulus checks for immigrant, refugee families

Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington told a House subcommittee that Congress should offer assistance to immigrant and refugee families in any stimulus bill they take up. Dorsonville said many immigrants and refugees in the U.S. work as front-line essential workers who have served the county during the coronavirus pandemic.

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“Immigrants and refugees are a blessing to our country,” the bishop said, according to Voice of America. “The contributions of essential workers have become undoubtedly more important during COVID-19.”

Dorsonville made the comments Wednesday in written testimony to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship. The subcommittee held a hearing on “Immigrants as Essential Workers During COVID-19.”

The bishop noted that many essential workers are U.S. citizens, but many are immigrants and refugees as well. According to the bishop, 31% of agricultural employees in the U.S. are immigrants who risk their safety not only to support their families but also to boost the nation’s food supply chains.

Why do immigrant, refugee families need federal help?

Stressing the importance of providing coronavirus stimulus checks to immigrants and refugees who are essential workers, the bishop said they are “highly vulnerable” to the coronavirus. They are also less likely to have access to medical care, the bishop noted. Despite the need, he says the group has been completely ignored in all the federal stimulus packages approved so far.

“We urge Congress to include immigrant and refugee families in any future COVID-19 relief as well as be made eligible for past relief efforts,” Bishop Dorsonville said.

According to data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, there are about 4.3 million unauthorized immigrants who do not have a Social Security Number. Most of them pay taxes using a Taxpayer Identification Number.

At the time of the first coronavirus stimulus checks, President Donald Trump acknowledged the problems faced by undocumented immigrants amid the pandemic, but he suggested that citizens without work needed help first.

Hopefully, the request from the bishop will encourage Congress to include immigrant and refugee families in the next stimulus package if it comes.

In addition to urging Congress to consider immigrant and refugee families for coronavirus stimulus checks, the bishop also asked Congress “for a path to citizenship for undocumented workers.”