Senator Mazie K. Hirono introduced an amendment to the immigration bill that would fix components of the law that unfairly penalize immigrant taxpayers. Her amendment #1317 would allow immigrant taxpayers to access federal safety net programs they pay for with their taxes. The bill prohibits immigrant taxpayers from using safety net programs for at least 13 years, even though they pay the same taxes as everyone else. Hirono's amendment would fix this.
Today the Congressional Budget Office reported the senate immigration bill will raise $459 billion in federal revenues over 2014-2023, "largely from additional collections of income and payroll taxes." CBO also said the bill will reduce the federal deficits by $197 billion over that period and by $690 billion over the next decade in significant part by denying immigrant taxpayers access to certain federal programs.
"Imagine if you buy homeowner's insurance, but the policy won't cover your house if it catches fire until 13 years after you start paying premiums. That would obviously not be fair. But that is exactly the situation in which people on the pathway to citizenship will find themselves because of restrictions in the senate immigration bill," Hirono explained. "My amendment would fix this and give immigrant taxpayers access to social safety net programs."
A number of groups advocating for immigrants and social safety net access endorsed Hirono's bill and praised her efforts fighting for immigrant taxpayers.
"As a nation, we believe that all taxpayers should be treated equally. Senator Hirono's amendment restores this fundamental equity for low income immigrant families, which will allow them to more fully contribute to their families and local economies," said Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center.
"Sen. Hirono's amendment is commonsense, fair and good economic and public policy. Keeping everyone healthy and fed leads to healthier workers, stronger families and communities and a healthier nation -- something we should all be able to agree with. We thank Sen. Hirono for recognizing the significant contributions that aspiring citizens make to our nation and offering them the same opportunities for success," said Kathy Ko Chin, President & CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum.
"Immigrant women and families make important contributions to our economy, our communities, and our nation. It's only fair--and makes good fiscal and common sense -- that aspiring citizens on the road to citizenship have the opportunity to pay into and benefit from the same family supports and affordable health care options as their friends and neighbors. We're thrilled to see leaders like Senator Hirono standing up for women, families, and fairness in immigration reform," said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH).
"Social Security is an earned benefit. No worker -- whatever the legal status -- who has contributed to Social Security for enough quarters to be insured under it should be deprived of those earned benefits, in the event of old age disability, or death, leaving a spouse or dependent survivors.. It is a matter of fairness, plain and simple," said Nancy Altman, Co-Chair of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition.
"Lawfully-present residents of the United States -- natural born citizens, naturalized citizens and documented immigrants, alike -- who work hard and make payroll tax contributions should receive the same benefits for themselves and their families. That's how America is supposed to work, how Social Security should work, and. with the help of Senator Hirono, will work," said Eric Kingson, Co-Director of Social Security Works, and Co-Chair of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition.