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Mixed-status immigrant families may miss out on federal funds

caption: The streets of Seattle are empty in March 2020 during the coronavirus outbreak
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The streets of Seattle are empty in March 2020 during the coronavirus outbreak
KUOW/Juan Pablo Chiquiza

Noelle has been married to her spouse for a decade. They have three children and she is a registered nurse in the Seattle area.

We’re using her middle name because her husband is undocumented.

"The stimulus money would have been really helpful," she says.

"But my family's not eligible for any stimulus money. If anybody in a family is undocumented, then the whole family is deemed ineligible. So despite paying taxes and being a U.S. citizen, I do not qualify and my kids do not qualify based on my husband's status."

Noelle is among those U.S. citizens who are not eligible for stimulus funds because their spouses are undocumented. Two federal lawsuits are currently challenging this exclusion.

For Washington, that could affect more than 130,000 U.S.-born children in mixed-status families.

Noelle's husband uses an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, to file his taxes. But the $2 trillion federal stimulus package currently excludes people who file taxes without a Social Security number. So U.S. citizens like Noelle, who file jointly with an undocumented spouse, are also barred.

If they were eligible for support, their family would have received an estimated $3,900.

"I was dismayed. I thought that that couldn't be, that's not true. And then, I looked further into it, and that seems to be the case. Now I'm pretty angry about it," Noelle said.

In Washington, more than 400 advocacy groups have called on state and federal officials to include mixed status families and undocumented immigrants in any future relief packages.

Washington state officials have also sent a letter to Congress asking for similar measures.

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