FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Many Northwest Arkansans have already gotten their stimulus checks, but a group of people living in Northwest Arkansas won’t be among them unless the federal government tweaks its rules.
This week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced a relief fund targeting workers living in the state illegally. The payout is $500 per person, capped at $1,000 per household. State Sen. Bob Ballinger (R) said he doesn’t want to see a similar program in Arkansas.
“These are people who for one reason or another have broken the law in order to be here,” Ballinger said.
A 2017 American Immigration Council report showed nearly half the immigrants living in Arkansas are undocumented. Some have called for the federal government to institute a provision for these people in the next round of stimulus checks, as they weren’t covered in the previous round of dispersal. Ballinger said they should find relief elsewhere, as the government should worry about American citizens.
“One thing that I’m always a big proponent of is private charity,” Ballinger said. “There are a lot of organizations, food banks and people out there who are loving their neighbors and contributing.”
Aaron Cash is an immigration attorney in Rogers, and he said it’s not just undocumented immigrants who aren’t eligible for the stimulus checks.
“If they’re married to a U.S. citizen and they filed their taxes together, that U.S. citizen is also not receiving the stimulus payment,” Cash said.
Many of these people pay taxes through an ITIN number issued by the IRS, Cash said, and they aren’t able to benefit from this aid like other taxpayers.
“It seems like these particular families are being singled out or punished,” Cash said. “Maybe it’s inadvertent, but the effect is that it’s harming families.”
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients are eligible for the stimulus money.