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U.S. Citizens Married to Immigrants Not Getting Stimulus Checks

This is an emotional picture about the immigration policies of the united states
By Andrew Leonatti | Last updated on

Stimulus checks of $1,200 are now flowing to Americans across the country, giving them a small financial lifeboat to help get through the coronavirus pandemic's upheaval of daily life.

But it turns out that there are millions of our fellow U.S. citizens who will not be getting these checks. Many of the categories of people who will miss out (high-wage earners, students, many elderly and disabled people) make sense. However, there was one group of Americans shocked to learn that they won't be getting financial relief: U.S. citizens married to immigrants who don't have Social Security numbers.

For them, it's hard to see this as anything other than discrimination by the federal government.

A Decision Affecting Millions

The move by the federal government will deny checks to a large portion of the 1.2 million Americans married to immigrants who lack legal status. The move by the Internal Revenue Service exempts those U.S. citizens who file their taxes separately from their spouse or those serving in the U.S. military.

In short: If your spouse does not have a Social Security number, and you filed your taxes jointly, you will not get a check. Nor will your U.S. citizen children, who were supposed to get $500 each.

"It's just fundamentally unfair, and it's really, really targeted to hurt," said American Families United President Randall Emery, whose organization advocates for these couples.

Lawsuit Accuses Government of Discrimination

The move to keep these people from getting stimulus funds, despite the fact that they work, pay taxes, and would otherwise qualify for them, has now sparked a lawsuit against the federal government.

The lawsuit, filed in a Chicago federal court by a "John Doe," says the IRS denying him his check is unconstitutional and does not "treat him as equal to his fellow United States citizens based solely on whom he chose to marry."

Until that case works (or doesn't) its way through the courts, though, many of these couples have little recourse.

With the 2019 tax filing deadline pushed to July 15, if you are a U.S. citizen in this situation, the only thing you would be able to do is file your taxes separately from your spouse if you have not done so yet.

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