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  1. Opinion

Don’t exclude these Americans from stimulus benefits | Column

Kids and spouses who are American citizens deserve benefits, and a new bill could fix that, writes Al Cardenas.

In the last three stimulus packages the Republicans have excluded U.S. citizen children and U.S. citizen spouses in families that have a parent who does not have a Social Security number. For a party that has repeatedly espoused the virtues of marriage to now impose a marriage penalty on U.S. citizens and their children is cruel and foolish.

Al Cardenas [ Provided ]

When Congress passed the CARES Act and provided Americans an economic impact payment of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child, it specifically denied this critical lifeline to U.S. citizens who happened to be married to a foreign national.

Republicans and Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for implementing such a discriminatory provision at a time when so many American families are struggling to make ends meet and scared about what the future holds in light of the pandemic.This is cruel.

It is also foolish. Imposing a marriage penalty on (voting) U.S. citizens, such as the 88,000 mixed status families here in swing state Florida, it is no wonder President Donald Trump is unpopular with roughly 75 percent of Latino voters nationally. GOP colleagues in Congress rarely fare any better, If Republicans want to have any chance at improving their dismal polling numbers among Latinos, they must fix this gross attack on U.S. citizens who had the bad luck to fall in love with or be parented by a non-citizen. .

Fortunately, thanks to Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Republicans have a chance to address this unfair mistake. Rubio and Tillis have filed a bill that would allow U.S. citizens, regardless of their spouse’s nationality, to qualify for the payments. In Florida, just considering the $1,200 per adult and ignoring the $500 per child, this could inject more than $105 million into local economies.

It is no secret that our local economies are starving for cash after months of shutdowns and false restarts. With the fixing of this injustice, small businesses around the country could get a much-needed financial shot in the arm and hopefully keep their lights on long enough to survive.

Republicans should rally behind leaders like Rubio and Tillis, and Democrats should set aside partisanship (at least briefly) and embrace this compassionate, common-sense proposal to benefit thousands of families and, ultimately, all Americans.

Al Cardenas, former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, is co-chair of the American Business Immigration Coalition.

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