Fact Check: Will Illegal Immigrants Receive Stimulus Checks, As Ted Cruz Says?
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Fact Check: Will Illegal Immigrants Receive Stimulus Checks, As Ted Cruz Says?

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) proposed an amendment to the American Rescue Plan that would bar illegal immigrants from access to the $1,400 stimulus checks.

His amendment was voted down after Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) criticized Cruz for trying to “rile people up over something that is not true.”

The Claim

Cruz claimed on Twitter that illegal immigrants would be eligible for the $1,400 stimulus checks included in the American Rescue Plan.

On March 6, Cruz tweeted, “When the checks go out, millions of illegal immigrants WILL GET $1400 checks.”

6/x FACT 9: When Durbin said “illegal immigrants don’t have social security numbers,” he was deliberately saying something false, knowing it would be repeated.

FACT 10: Under the bill’s language, MILLIONS OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS will get the $1400 checks.

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 7, 2021

He wrote that many people considered illegal immigrants are those who have overstayed their visas, and therefore have Social Security numbers.

Cruz argued that the possession of Social Security numbers will allow unlawfully present individuals to obtain the stimulus money.

The Facts

Anyone who pays taxes in the United States as a resident is eligible for a stimulus payment under the American Rescue Plan. That includes non-citizens.

For example, a citizen of Canada who is living and working full time in the U.S. would have a Social Security number and would be considered a resident alien. That person would be eligible for a stimulus payment.

The United States Department of Homeland Security website describes unauthorized immigrants as foreign-born non-citizens who live in the United States without legal residence.

People who qualify as legal residents include those who have passed the green card test (permanent legal residents) or those who pass the substantial presence test. That test requires taxpayers to be physically present in the United States for 31 days of the current year and 183 days for the past three years.

Anyone who has a green card is considered a legal permanent resident, and would be eligible for the stimulus payment.

Undocumented aliens would not be eligible to receive a check because they do not have a Social Security number.

Under the American Rescue Plan, mixed-status households would be eligible for a payment. Meaning that if one member of a household is considered a resident alien or a citizen, other members of that household might be eligible even if they do not meet the resident alien requirement. This represents a change from the previous COVID-19 relief bills.

Individuals who overstay their visas but pay tax in the United States using a Social Security number may be eligible for stimulus payments. The most recent available data for the number of visa overstays in the United States is from 2019, released by the Department of Homeland Security. It said that 1.21 percent of visas in that year were overstayed, or 676,422 overstays. In 2019, student visas (1.52 percent) had a higher overstay rate than those from Canada and Mexico (.75 percent, 1.27 percent, respectively).

The Ruling

Mostly False.

Cruz’s claim that millions of illegal immigrants would receive stimulus payments is not true, although some people who overstay their visas might be eligible for a stimulus payment based on their tax filings.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) addresses the Conservative
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in the Hyatt Regency on February 26, 2021, in Orlando, Florida.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images/Getty

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