RPT: FEATURE - Americans Denied COVID-19 Relief Over Migrant Family Members Struggle, Lawsuit Gives Hope

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 28th May, 2020) While most Americans received stimulus payments to help get through the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, other US citizens have been left behind, deemed ineligible because a member in their family is an undocumented immigrant.

Earlier this month, the Georgetown Law school's Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection and Villanova Law Professor Leslie Book filed a lawsuit, arguing that the Trump administration has discriminated against children in the United States with undocumented immigrant parents by excluding them from stimulus payments in a recent $2.1 trillion coronavirus (COVID-19) relief package under the CARES Act.


Melanie Medina, 19, is a college student at Taft College in southern California. She and her two other siblings are US citizens, but received no rescue in troubling times. They are ineligible to receive stimulus payments because their parents - who are field workers - are undocumented immigrants.

"It has been difficult, my mom lost her job and my dad's hours were cut drastically only working twice a week sometimes one time a week," Medina told Sputnik. "I just didn't find it fair how my parents do their taxes and still didn't receive a stimulus check."

Medina and her two siblings are claimed as dependents by their parents when they do their taxes. In this case, the Medina family could have received $1,500 in financial relief from the Federal government.

Medina has applied for academic scholarships to help alleviate some of the heavy burden on her parents, but so far it has been a dead end.

"I feel like this lawsuit should be an eye opener for everyone in the [Republican] political party," Medina said. "There are undocumented people that need help, need to provide for their kids. I know undocumented classmates that do their taxes and they haven't received any help because of not having a social security number and they need to pay off rent and buy groceries."

Medina's family recently received help from a state relief program announced by California Governor Gavin Newsom in mid-April to help undocumented immigrants in the state. The state in partnership with philanthropic organizations provided $125 million to help undocumented immigrants get through the pandemic.

Undocumented individuals are eligible for up to $500 in assistance and undocumented families can receive up to $1,000 in assistance. Newsom highlighted that 10 percent of the workforce in California consists of undocumented immigrants who hold essential jobs in the healthcare, agricultural, construction and manufacturing sectors.

Medina said President Donald Trump should take action to alleviate some of the suffering.

"He [Trump] should realize there are undocumented immigrants who are essential workers, there are families working together in order to survive," Medina said. "If he helps all of the immigrants out there you have no idea how much of a great impact he will make on all of us. It may not be enough money for some of us but at least he is trying to help get back on our feet and I hope he changes his mind."

A December 2018 report from the Department of Homeland Security estimated that 12 million undocumented immigrants were living in the United States in January 2015. The report said the population grew by 70,000 each year from 2010 to 2015.


Monique Martinez, 22, of the US state of Washington, is another American struggling through the pandemic, skipped from receiving any federal stimulus payments.

Martinez files her taxes with her husband, an undocumented immigrant, which not only made her ineligible to get a stimulus check, but also her 1-year-old son and her younger brother, who she claims as a dependent.

Martinez, her son and brother are all US citizens, but restricted from receiving a total of $2,200 in stimulus payments.

Martinez emphasized she is born and raised in the United States and pays taxes every year.

"I think it's absurd that none of us are getting checks," Martinez told Sputnik. "I am working full time right now to provide for my family... A stimulus check would've definitely helped soften the blow of bills, medical [costs] and utilities."

Martinez has an overwhelming responsibility as the leader of the family amid the pandemic. Martinez works as a manager at a fast food restaurant and is concerned she may be putting her son at risk because he has a heart condition and may require surgery at the end of the year.

"I'm very, very concerned if he gets sick, he will need that surgery sooner," Martinez said.

In addition, Martinez said she is a full-time student at a college and also serving as a full-time caregiver for her mom, who recently suffered a dislocated hip.

"I'm glad there are people standing up to the government," Martinez said regarding the lawsuit. "Someone has to rise and say that these things aren't right. We are all humans in need of help right now."

The House of Representatives recently passed a $3 trillion relief package but the measure is almost certainly expected to be rejected by the Senate.

Trump and the Republicans oppose the bill because it grants stimulus payments to undocumented immigrants in the United States, among other issues.

"If I could talk to lawmakers about the bill, I'd remind them that most immigrants pay taxes," Martinez said. "As for my family, how can I raise my son to follow the rules and the system when it is clearly made against us?"

Moreover, Martinez said the current circumstances have disappointed her mother who came to the United States as a child for better opportunities.

"She came to the States as a child and worked hard," Martinez said. "She raised three kids on her own working 3 jobs sometimes. Every year she paid taxes. She never received a child tax credit for any of one of my siblings or I. Never in her life did she think the government would turn on us. Her US-born, tax-paying children."

The United States currently has more than 1.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nearly 100,000 deaths caused by the disease, according to a John Hopkins University tally.