Last weekend, a prominent Republican senator, Ted Cruz of Texas, and the second-ranking Democratic senator, Dick Durbin of Illinois, had an argument on the Senate floor about whether undocumented immigrants are eligible to receive checks from the pandemic relief bill President Joe Biden signed on Thursday, the American Rescue Plan Act.

Cruz said “every illegal alien in America” would get a $1,400 check. Durbin responded that Cruz’s statement is “just plain false,” because, he said, “undocumented immigrants do not have Social Security numbers, and they do not qualify for stimulus relief checks, period.”
They were both wrong.
Facts First: Cruz was inaccurate when he said “every” undocumented immigrant will get a $1,400 relief check; it is clear that most undocumented immigrants will not. Durbin was inaccurate when he categorically said undocumented immigrants do not have Social Security numbers and do not qualify for checks “period.” A minority of undocumented people, such as those who came to the US 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.
“You can be in the country without authorization to work, you can be a non-US citizen, and still have your SSN and qualify for the payments,” said Janet Holtzblatt, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and a former tax official in the federal government.

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