The $800 billion-plus economic stimulus measure making its way through Congress could steer government checks to illegal immigrants, a top Republican congressional official asserted Thursday.The legislation, which would send tax credits of $500 per worker and $1,000 per couple, expressly disqualifies nonresident aliens, but it would allow people who don't have Social Security numbers to be eligible for the checks.
Undocumented immigrants who are not eligible for a Social Security number can file tax returns with an alternative number. A House-passed version of the economic recovery bill and one making its way through the Senate would allow anyone with such a number, called an individual taxpayer identification number, to qualify for the tax credits. A revolt among GOP conservatives to similar provisions of a 2008 economic stimulus bill, which sent rebate checks to most wage earners, forced Democratic congressional leaders to add stricter eligibility requirements. That legislation, enacted in February 2008, required that people have valid Social Security numbers in order to get checks.
The GOP official voiced concerns about the latest economic aid measure on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it publicly.
Republicans have already blasted the package for including what they argue is wasteful spending and omitting tax cuts for wealthier people and businesses they say are needed to jump-start the anemic economy.
Not a single Republican voted for an $819 billion version of the plan when it passed the House on Wednesday.
GOP senators arranged a midday news conference to voice their concerns.