Read in Spanish here
NORTH CAROLINA, Raleigh- The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is supporting a lawsuit against the federal government that challenges a provision in the $2.2 trillion stimulus package, or CARES Act, which denies the benefit to married couples if filing jointly with an undocumented spouse.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and six plaintiffs—all U.S. citizens with undocumented spouses—are suing the federal government, saying the denial of a stimulus check to taxpayers is unconstitutional. They lawsuit alleges that the provision “discriminates against mixed-status couples because it treats them differently than other married couples, in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment guarantees of equal protection and due process.”
Pew Research Center estimates that for 2017 (the most recent data available), about 2.4 million mixed-status families lived in the U.S. These are couples or single individuals with minor children where one or both parents are unauthorized immigrants and one or more children are U.S. citizens (because they are US-born), according to Pew senior demographer Jeffrey Passel. Pew estimates about 85,000 such families in N.C. At least 300,000 adults and children across the state are excluded. Read more here.
Mixed-status Families UNITED
On a press call Friday, May 1, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, led by chairman Joaquin Castro (Texas), joined MALDEF and two of the plaintiffs, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.
Christina Segundo Hernandez, a plaintiff in the lawsuit from Texas, is an American citizen with four American-born children. Because her husband is undocumented, the family is denied the $1,200 stimulus for Segundo Hernandez and $500 for each child. She started the Facebook group Mixed-status Families UNITED, which has over 10,000 members in the same situation. Many of them, she says, are doctors, nurses and other frontline workers during the global pandemic.
“It’s been a really hard time, and we’re feeling completely left out of this,” said Segundo Hernandez on the call.
“I am home with my four children and we have nothing, we are lost,” said Anastasia Campos, a plaintiff from California. “Feeling like I have been slapped in the face by my government is wrong. I have always contributed, as has my husband.”
"discriminated because who they chose to marry"
Representative Castro said that people are being “discriminated against simply because of who they chose to marry.” House Speaker Pelosi called the provision a “monumental injustice.”
“There are millions of American citizens like Christina and Anastasia,” Pelosi said. “They pay taxes, contribute to our economy and in many cases are fighting on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis. Five million American children are being affected.”
She added: “When the public is aware of this it will undermine any story the president will put out there.”
Senator Schumer promised that “Senate Democrats are going to fight like hell” to amend the package to include mixed-status families. “All of this is happening with no other reason but for lack of empathy from the administration,” he said. “Let’s call it for what it is: discrimination.”
When asked by a reporter if she would extend the coronavirus relief fund to undocumented populations in her new proposed stimulus plan, Pelosi responded that she “thought it was a subject that needed consideration.”