Illegal Immigrants Will Likely Receive Third Round of Coronavirus Stimulus Checks, Experts Say

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The U.S. Senate voted against giving coronavirus stimulus checks to illegal immigrants last month, but one immigration-restrictionist think tank says that millions could still receive them — and a left-leaning news outlet confirms that an unidentified number of them will.

The Center for Immigration Studies, which wants fewer immigrants in the country, projects that the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will give $4.38 billion in cash payments to illegal immigrants, contrary to the claims by some that illegal immigrants won’t receive stimulus checks.

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that about 2.65 million illegal immigrants have Social Security numbers and that 2.1 million of those people have incomes low enough to qualify for a stimulus check. Additionally, the organization estimates that these people have about 1.1 million children who were born in this country and therefore are U.S. citizens.

The U.S. federal government is distributing checks worth $1,400 per adult earning less than $75,000 in adjusted gross income per year (or less than $150,000 for a married couple) plus $1,400 per dependent. The Internal Revenue Service’s web site features a “Get My Payment” button offering directions.

A minimum requirement is having a Social Security number. Many illegal immigrants have a Social Security number, but it’s probably a minority of the total, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, which uses estimates 10 to 11 million for the number of illegals in the country.

The organization’s report breaks down the categories of illegal immigrants who could qualify for coronavirus checks into five groups:  DACA recipients (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), TPS recipients (Temporary Protected Status), Asylum applicants, Other aliens temporarily present without status under the Immigration and Nationality Act, and Illegal immigrants with stolen identities. The report estimates a total of 3,160,136 illegal immigrants and their children qualifying for payments.

Earlier this month, CNN’s fact check reporter Daniel Dale confirmed that at least some illegal immigrants will likely receive $1,400 stimulus checks, although Dale didn’t offer a number for the total.

During debate on the floor on March 5, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) suggested that the bill would allow “every illegal alien in America” get a coronavirus check; U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) responded (according to the Congressional Record) by saying:  “Undocumented immigrants do not have Social Security numbers, and they do not qualify for stimulus relief checks, period.”

CNN’s Dale’s verdict:  “They were both wrong.”

Instead, Dale wrote:  “A minority of undocumented people, such as those who came to the U.S. on work visas that later expired, do have Social Security numbers; those numbers do not expire. The new law, like relief legislation signed last year by then-President Donald Trump, does not distinguish between Social Security numbers undocumented people use on their tax forms and Social Security numbers citizens and legal residents use on their tax forms.”

The bill says that to receive a check a person needs a valid Social Security number and cannot be a “nonresident alien.” However, illegal immigrants can be resident aliens, according to the IRS web site — which states:  “Even an undocumented alien who meets the Substantial Presence Test will be treated for tax purposes as a resident alien.”

Here is how long a person must have spent in the country for the IRS to consider that person a resident alien:


  • 31 days during the current year, and

  • 183 days during the 3-year period that includes the current year and the 2 years immediately before that, counting:

    • All the days you were present in the current year, and

    • 1/3 of the days you were present in the first year before the current year, and

    • 1/6 of the days you were present in the second year before the current year


As Julia Gelatt, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, told CNN earlier this month, “the way the bill is written, as long as someone has a valid Social Security number issued by the (Social Security Administration), they would be eligible for the stimulus payments.”

It’s something that members of Congress were made aware of last May. The Congressional Research Service confirmed that an undisclosed number of illegal immigrants received checks in the first round of payments. The office stated back then:  “Unauthorized immigrants who have an SSN (e.g., a noncitizen who had a visa that allowed him or her to work in the United States but remained in the country after it expired) would generally receive the recovery rebate, assuming they met the other eligibility requirements.”