The U.S. Senate has unveiled the first version of its HEALS Act, and it does not include stimulus checks for mixed-status families that include undocumented immigrants. According to a report by Newsweek, Sen. Marc Rubio spearheaded the call among Republicans to include undocumented immigrants in future stimulus programs. Judging by the first version of this legislation, his cries fell on deaf ears.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools Act — HEALS Act — with input from other Senate Republicans and the Trump administration. He did not heed all that advice, judging by the stimulus check parameters included in his bill. American taxpayers will be eligible for the check if they meet specific criteria, similar to that in the CARES Act back in March. However, the legislation still leaves out undocumented immigrants and their families, in many cases.
Many Americans were frustrated to find that they did not receive the first stimulus check, despite being eligible for one, since they filed their taxes jointly with someone who was not eligible. This time around, that rule was maintained. According to Newsweek, if McConnell had changed this guideline, it would have created a strong case for those Americans to demand a retroactive stimulus check from the first round.
Under Rubio's proposal, undocumented immigrants themselves would not receive stimulus checks, but their family members would. They would also be able to get the additional $500 for underage dependents. Rubio's plan will reportedly have set a precedent for future stimulus packages as well if lawmakers pass any more.
McConnell has said that he wants the HEALS Act to be the final stimulus package passed to combat the economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. He set the budget at a maximum of $1 trillion — less than half of that of the CARES Act, and far lower than that of the HEROES Act, the stimulus package that the U.S. Congress passed back in mid-May.
Rubio's plan for the families of undocumented people had support from other Republicans, including Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. Similar proposals have been made by Democrats as well. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Ed Markey co-wrote a stimulus package that would have included undocumented immigrants in all of its programs. The Senate ignored this bill altogether. Sanders called the HEALS Act "dead on arrival" shortly after it was revealed.