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Arizona senators don't want undocumented immigrants to get federal stimulus aid

Eight Democrats, including Sinema and Kelly, voted in favor of an amendment to block undocumented immigrants from getting stimulus aid.

PHOENIX — Another round of stimulus help is a step closer to reach American pockets.

Both the US House and Senate passed a budget resolution to advance President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, with mainly Democratic votes.

As the bill made its way through Congress, 58 Senators voted to block stimulus checks for undocumented workers, including our state senators, Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly.

Both, in separate statements, defended their actions.

Senator Sinema's office said, “Kyrsten voted to uphold what is currently law, which does not allow individuals without work-eligible social security numbers to receive stimulus payments”.

While Senator Kelly said, “I understand that our immigration system is broken, and I’m committed to fixing it in a way that is true to our values”.

Their vote is a blow to immigrant advocates like Danny Ortega, who says the Latino community rallied to elect them, now, he is disappointed. He believes the Senators have turned their backs on them.

“At the end of the day, we just have to keep count. One issue cannot be determinative of what they may or may not do for our community, but we will see,” said Ortega, who is also an attorney.

Ortega says he has a personal relationship with both Sinema and Kelly. When asked if he would bring this up to them, he said “I think it will be a waste of my time.”

While undocumented immigrants have not received any federal aid throughout the pandemic, statistics show they have been disproportionally impacted by COVID-19.

Latinos are among the groups with the highest positivity rate, as they tend to be essential workers — keeping stores stocked, hospitals cleaned, and trash picked up from your home.

“We contribute a lot,” said Elizabeth Baca, an undocumented immigrant who cleans homes. “We are the ones who do the hardest jobs, how can they not give us that help?”.

Baca and her husband got COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic. Her house-cleaning hours were reduced, and with online learning, bills increased. But because of her immigration status, she has not qualified for stimulus relief.

“Stimulus checks are a tax credit and you have to have someone in the household to file to get the tax credit”, said Tom Wheelwright, a certified public accountant.

Wheelwright says undocumented immigrants, even those with US-born children like Elizabeth, are not eligible to get federal aid, since they don’t have a social security number.

Although the final version of the COVID relief package passed in the House got rid of the amendment Sinema and Kelly voted in favor of, immigrants say they are hopeful aid will come their way.

“I have faith that something will happen with this president,” Baca added.

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