Stimulus Checks: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Sued for Excluding Immigrants' Children From Benefits

A lawsuit has been filed against U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over the administration's decision to withhold stimulus checks from immigrants. It's the second lawsuit of its kind, with this one, which was filed on Tuesday, focusing on children who are American citizens and where one or both parents are undocumented immigrants, according to CBS News.

The lawsuit claims that by excluding these children a stimulus payment is "discriminatory" and unconstitutional. "By denying U.S. citizen children cash assistance now for discriminatory reasons — in the midst of a pandemic that has caused their families, like many others, serious hardships — the CARES Act has inflicted particularly severe injuries on an especially vulnerable group that numbers in the millions," read the lawsuit. It also lists seven children as plaintiffs, ranging from infants to 9-years-old, who will be represented by attorneys from Georgetown University Law Center and Villanova University.

The suit also addresses a tax loophole that states that children of couples in which one parent is a U.S. citizen qualify for payment, but only if their parents file taxes separately. However, the suit claims that filing separate tax returns "will increase the family's tax burden in an amount that reduces, or may eliminate entirely, any benefit from securing economic impact payments for qualifying children." It's estimated by the Migration Policy Institute that as many as 1.2 million Americans may have been impacted by the government's decision to withhold stimulus payments in this manner

The $2 trillion CARES Act, which was passed in March amid the coronavirus pandemic, guarantees most taxpaying Americans over 18 will be getting $1,200 stimulus checks, along with $500 for each dependent. There is a sliding scale starting with those who make at least $75,000 annually or $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns. Although there are exceptions to this as well, as the taxpayers' dependents may be still be eligible for a $500 payout.

The rollout of payments hasn't been without problems, from money going into the wrong accounts to the much-needed funds to be depleted by delinquent payments and debt collectors. There's been some call for the Treasury Department to step in and intervene, although it's unlikely anything will happen unless Congress is able to draft a law. However, given the substantial public outcry, a number of financial institutions have elected to stop garnishing the stimulus payments in the short term.