sen. Romney’s plan to boost families would disregard these kids
August 21, 2022
sen. Mitt Romney speaks at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on October 29, 2021. Critics say Romney’s Family Security Act 2.0 leaves out large groups of children. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)
Estimated reading time: 6-7 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — Families can receive up to $350 a month per child at the suggestion of Senator Mitt Romney, but some families with mixed immigration status will be disregarded.
Romney’s Family Security Act 2.0, the second draft of the legislation he originally proposed last year, requires every child and at least one of their parents to have a Social Security number, meaning children with U.S. citizens with undocumented parents and undocumented children will be omitted. However, recipients do not have to be a U.S. citizen as long as they have a Social Security Number, like some recipients of deferred action for child arrivals.
Laura Ruiz, an undocumented single mother in Utah County, says her family could use the payments. Ruiz has tried unsuccessfully in the past to obtain legal residency, leaving her with fewer options to support her two U.S. citizens, ages 8 and 10. She has switched to freelance interpreting in Spanish, but says it is not a stable income.
“I’d like my kids to have the same opportunities as the families who would have the extra income,” Ruiz said, pointing to food, medical expenses, sports programs and extracurricular activities as examples of how they make monthly payments. “All the money would go to them. I don’t want anything for myself.’
Romney has said his proposal would reduce the economic burden of raising children and encourage Americans to have more children, calling it “pro-family, pro-life, and pro-marriage.” Ruiz argued that being pro-life means fighting for rights not only for those in the womb, but for everyone with basic needs.
“It’s disappointing because knowing that Senator Romney has gone against the establishment before — for example, when he voted to impeach (former President Donald) Trump — I expected him to take a similar stance,” Ruiz said. “I encourage him to reconsider whether undocumented families are eligible, because it’s not a Democrat versus Republican issue or a religion issue or what the scriptures say or anything like that; it’s a basic human right that everyone should have.” .”
I would like my children to have the same opportunities as the families who would have the extra income. All the money would go to them. I don’t want anything for myself.
—Laura Ruiz, undocumented mother in Utah County
Romney was not available for an interview and his office was unable to answer questions about whether the senator supports sending checks to families of children with U.S. citizens and undocumented children and whether exceptions would be made for parents who use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, which the IRS issues to individuals who pay taxes but do not qualify for a Social Security Number.
The number of children left out of Romney’s proposal could run into the millions. Data is usually collected on whether children live with at least one undocumented parent, making it difficult to determine how many children in the US have two undocumented parents. However, the Migration Policy Institute reported that 7% of the U.S. child population, or 5.5 million children, lived with at least one undocumented parent in 2019. The majority, 86%, were nationals and a further 13% were undocumented.
The nonprofit Comunidades Unidas is calling on Romney to change the eligibility rules in his proposal to include mixed-status families. The group says the Family Security Act does not comply with the Child Tax Credit, which provided monthly cash payments of up to $300 per child before it expired in January.
Unlike Romney’s proposal, the child tax credit did not require parents to have a Social Security number as long as they had an ITIN. Critics of the Family Security Act 2.0 also say income requirements that reduce payment amounts for families earning less than $10,000 also cut out children who can benefit the most.
Fany De Lucas, an immigrant rights campaigner at Comunidades Unidas, said mixed-status, undocumented families are among the families most in need of the payments.
“Going back to COVID times, they haven’t even received a stimulus check,” De Lucas said, referring to a policy that banned mixed-status and undocumented families from receiving a stimulus check from the IRS. “So, a lot of our families are still trying to get out of that mess where COVID left them.”
She added that the general consensus of the families she works with has been disappointing. She also emphasized the positive impact these families have on a community – from hard work like snowploughing and building to stocking the supermarkets.
“A lot of families could really use that to go to their rent, or even do their own shopping. It’s not like a new phone or a new car; they’re the basic necessities of life,” says De Lucas. “That’s where the disappointment comes from, because it’s like this money is going to help you survive.”
Many families could use that (money) to do their own rent or even do their shopping. It’s not like a new phone or a new car; they are the necessities of life. … That’s where the disappointment comes from, because it’s like this money is going to help you survive.
–Fany De Lucas, Comunidades Unidas organizer of immigrant rights
According to Angie De La Cruz, 18, those payments could make a difference well beyond childhood. Her parents immigrated from Peru to Utah about 25 years ago. She and her older sister were born in the US and her parents were both undocumented.
“I grew up seeing you two very hardworking working-class parents who gave everything my sister and I needed — but there was also a lot of stress and anxiety that came with being in those kinds of situations,” De La said. cruz . “I grew up in a pretty anxious state.”
Some of that stress came from the fear of being separated from her family, but some was linked to financial worries. Like many undocumented workers, De La Cruz’s parents had limited employment opportunities because of their immigration status. Her father worked in construction and her mother cleaned laundromats.
Her parents recently got work permits and are in the process of getting green cards. But the trauma of growing up in a mixed-status family is something that remains with De La Cruz to this day, she said. While her age means her parents couldn’t apply for Romney’s proposed payments, she hopes sharing her story — especially when many undocumented families are afraid to talk openly about their status — will help others understand the potential of Family Security. Act has for mixed families. status families.
“I can say with certainty that this will have the most impact on children,” she said. “After the experiences I’ve had, struggling with mental health and anxiety, it’s not something I want other kids to go through.”
“The purpose of the Family Security Act is to help American families who are experiencing extraordinary amounts of financial stress, and I really focused on that American family part because I would consider my family an American family,” said De La Cruz. continued. “And I know a lot of other families consider themselves American families, even if they didn’t grow up here or don’t have a document stating that status.”
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Sydnee Gonzalez is a reporter for KSL.com about minority communities. Se habla espanol. You can find Sydnee at @sydnee_gonzalez on Twitter.