Al Dia Politics: California Latino Caucus Pushes Tax Breaks for Undocumented Families
By: Ericka Conant
California’s Democratic leaders are including tax incentives for undocumented families, as well as health coverage for older immigrants regardless of documentation in their latest budget plan.
Undocumented immigrants are not currently eligible for a range of economic safety programs like social security, and the recent stimulus checks distributed to qualifying citizens nationwide.
California’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) gives eligible people who file federal income tax a cash refund only if they file with a social security number.
Despite being one of the largest taxpaying demographics –an estimated $2.5 billion in 2019– undocumented immigrants do not benefit from neither unemployment insurance or congressionally approved funds.
And, when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a program to give undocumented Californians a one-time cash payment during the pandemic, he disclosed how little these individuals would receive compared to the taxes they pay.
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted California’s economic disparities.
The tax incentives bill, AB 1593 sponsored by CA Assemblymember Eloise Reyes, could change that, by expanding EITC to include undocumented tax filers.
Now the California State Senate and Assembly have reached an agreement on the proposed 2020-2020 budget, which includes both the tax incentives for undocumented immigrants, as well as health insurance for all seniors over age 65 regardless of immigration status.
Reyes, along with CA Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D - San Diego), Chair of the Latino Caucus, and Senator and Vice Chair María Elena Durazo (D - Los Angeles), spoke out in support of the bill on June 4 in a joint statement.
“To rebuild our economy, we must pass a budget that invests in vulnerable communities who have been among the hardest hit during this pandemic,” Gonzalez said.
Sen. Durazo emphasized the disproportionate impact effects on Latinos during the pandemic.
“There is no better investment than to ensure all populations in California are well equipped to fight the financial and health challenges created by this global pandemic,” she said.
But will the governor approve?
The California Legislature must pass a budget by June 15.
Until then, the public won’t know the fate of the programs aimed at helping undocumented seniors and the tax credit (EITC) for low-income working families.
Critics argue expanding the Cal EITC as the state faces a $54 billion deficit may not be possible. And, while Newsom supports the Cal EITC, he has yet to comment on expanding the program to undocumented immigrants.
Still, the Latino Caucus is making AB1593 a priority for this legislative session, reports KQED News.
Since the pandemic depleted California's economy, Newsom revised his budget plan in May. It initially appeared without the expansion to California’s medical insurance assistance program (Medi Cal) that included undocumented immigrants.
However lawmakers included the expansion in their budget proposal, but the governor has the right to further delay implementation based on whether the budget can afford the cost.
In order for the expansions to be added to the final budget, both houses of the legislature must pass them before requiring Newsom’s approval.
Whatever the outcome, Assemblymember Gonzalez is proud of her caucus’ efforts.
“The Latino Caucus has worked hard to make sure this community is prioritized in this year’s budget, and I’m proud of that work reflected in the joint agreement announced today between the Assembly and Senate.”