Senate approves barring illegal immigrants from getting stimulus checks

A number of liberal activists and Democrats have called for illegal immigrants to be included.

The Senate on Thursday approved an amendment to block illegal immigrants from receiving stimulus checks, as part of a marathon vote-a-rama -- with eight Democrats voting in favor of it.

The amendment, introduced by Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Todd Young, R-Ind., would bar any direct stimulus payments being distributed to those in the country illegally.


"Economic Impact Payments were intended to provide a lifeline to Americans struggling to make ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic. They were not intended for people who are in our country illegally," Young said. "Our amendment would ensure that people who break our immigration laws aren’t receiving taxpayer-funded handouts."

The federal government has so far passed two rounds of stimulus checks, in the spring last year and in December. Neither round has included illegal immigrants. President Biden has called for an additional round of $1,400 checks to certain Americans, although he has not called for it to include illegal immigrants

Those payments have gone out to Americans and immigrants with Social Security numbers. Immigrants need Social Security numbers to work in the country legally. But that excludes illegal immigrants, who can only file on an Individual Taxpayer Identity Number (ITIN.)

But some Democrats in the House have proposed legislation that would include ITIN filers, while others have proposed measures such as giving debit cards to "every person" in America.

The amendment prevents legislation that "would allow illegal immigrants to receive Economic Impact Payments or any other similar direct, tax-based temporary financial assistance."

The amendment passed 58-42. Democratic Sens. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.; John Hickenlooper, D-Colo.; Mark Kelly, D-Ariz.; Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; Gary Peters, D-Mich.; Kirsten Sinema, D-Ariz.; Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., joined Republicans in voting for the measure.

While the measure was non-binding, it was welcomed by immigration hawks, who noted that the passage drew a number of Democrats.

"It should be a no brainer when it comes to direct stimulus payments going to American citizens and not illegal aliens, but who knows even in this crisis," RJ Hauman, head of government relations for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), said. "After tonight, we’re encouraged to see that a handful of Democrats finally decided to focus on the concerns of Americans on immigration, not their party’s radical fringe."

However, some Democrats immediately drew heat for their vote in favor of the amendment.

"Colorado did not elect John Hickenlooper to the Senate so he could cast chickens--- votes," immigration attorney Hans Meyer told The Denver Post. The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition reportedly called it a "backstab."

A spokesperson for Hickenlooper defended the senator’s vote.


"Budget resolution amendments are non-binding and lead to exactly the kind of circus that makes Washington so famously dysfunctional," the spokesperson told the Post. "Instead of playing political games, John is laser-focused on getting us through the pandemic, rebuilding the economy and finding a long-term solution to fix our broken immigration system."

In other amendments during the vote-a-rama, the Senate voted 97-3 to support keeping the U.S. Embassy in Israel in Jerusalem; 50-50 on a failed amendment to support the border wall; 50-50 on a failed amendment supporting the free exercise of religion; 100-0 to oppose the defunding of police; 50-50 on a failed amendment to oppose packing the Supreme Court; 50-50 on a failed amendment opposing stimulus checks for people in prison; 50-50 on a failed amendment opposing the Biden administration's move to restrict oil and gas leasing on federal lands; 50-50 on a failed amendment opposing a federal carbon tax; 53-47 in favor of an amendment supporting the expansion of health savings accounts; and more.


A final Democratic amendment proposed by Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer undid three GOP-proposed amendments -- including the one opposing stimulus checks for illegal immigrants. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote.

The Senate ultimately adopted a budget resolution for coronavirus relief 51-50 with Vice President Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. It's not a final bill but allows the Senate to proceed toward a final bill under the budget reconciliation rules, which would let Democrats pass a coronavirus stimulus plan by going around a GOP filibuster as long as their caucus remains united.

Fox News' Tyler Olson contributed to this report.