By Senator David Vitter
The federal government is handing out $4.2 billion a year to illegal aliens.
This isn't some service benefit that illegal aliens are receiving, like taxpayer-subsidized health care or education. And it's not a tax deduction or a non-refundable tax credit, which would require recipients to actually pay taxes in order to receive the benefit. It's a refundable tax credit, a taxpayer-funded check from the federal government. And the government requires no proof that the recipient is actually eligible under the law, which illegals are not.
Abuse of this tax benefit is one of the most ridiculous examples of fraud adding to our federal deficit today. Equally harmful, it is acting as a powerful incentive for more illegal aliens to come to America.
While illegal aliens don't qualify for legitimate Social Security numbers, the IRS allows them to apply for Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs). The overwhelming majority of returns with ITINs are filed by illegals. This is how they fraudulently apply for and receive these checks.
This tax credit was designed to help working families offset the costs of raising children. But illegal aliens -- who don't possess valid Social Security numbers because they are not authorized to work in this country -- are able to receive these tax credits by simply providing an ITIN and claiming to have children. So, American taxpayers are writing checks to illegal aliens -- $1,000 per child, $4.2 billion per year total.
An investigative reporter in Indianapolis recently uncovered cases in which illegal aliens were claiming the child tax credit for nieces and nephews who did not even live in the United States. Some received more than $10,000 from the federal government.
One admitted that his address was used by four other illegal aliens who don't even live there. They claimed 20 children were living in one mobile home and received returns, including the additional child tax credit, totaling $29,608. But only one child actually lives at the residence; the other 19 live in Mexico and have never even visited the United States.
The Obama administration's own Department of Treasury, through its inspector general for tax administration, has repeatedly warned about these abuses and said that "millions of people are seeking this tax credit who, we believe, are not entitled to it."
Tragically, the IRS is doing nothing to fight this blatant fraud. While I believe they could and should, their complete inaction has prompted me to introduce a clear solution in Congress -- the Child Tax Credit Integrity Preservation Act. It would require every individual applying for the child tax credit to provide a valid Social Security number, exactly as everyone must do to receive the earned-income tax credit.
Just last week, Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) and I took to the Senate floor to ask our Senate colleagues to pass this commonsense bill by unanimous consent. Unfortunately, none other than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) blocked our effort.
The American people have the innate common sense and fairness to see that this abuse must end. The question is: Will the U.S. Senate muster those same qualities and do the right thing?
-- Senator David Vitter (R., La.) is the founder and chairman of the Senate Border Security and Enforcement First Immigration Caucus.