On Tuesday, a lawsuit was filed in Maryland on behalf of six Americans by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) against the United States federal government over denial of coronavirus aid checks.
This is in reference to the $2.2 billion aid package passed by Congress last month. The bill includes direct checks, worth $500 billion dollars, for families as well as aid for small businesses, hospitals and state and local governments.
The individuals represented in the case were denied financial aid due to being married to immigrants who don’t have social security numbers (SSN). These immigrant spouses pay their taxes through what is known as an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), a tax identification method available for certain nonresident and resident individuals and their spouses and dependents who cannot get a SSN.
Millions use this tax identification method to pay their annual federal taxes in the states.
MALDEF’s vice president of litigation, Nina Perales, said that the denial of financial aid on the grounds of who the individual is married to amounts to a violation of the individual’s First and Fifth Amendment rights.
One of the plaintiffs in the case, Christina Segundo-Hernandez, is an American who has been married to an immigrant for eight years and pays their annual taxes through his ITIN. They’re both struggling to pay their bills as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, making the stimulus check essential to their ability to carry on.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, around 1.2 million immigrants are married to US citizens.