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Republicans say Obama giving immigrants 'amnesty bonuses'

Published:Monday | February 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM
United States President Barack Obama


Millions of immigrants benefiting from President Barack Obama's executive actions could get a windfall from the IRS, a reversal of fortune after years of paying taxes to help fund government programmes they were banned from receiving.

Armed with new Social Security numbers, many of these immigrants who were living in the US illegally will now be able to claim up to four years' worth of tax credits designed to benefit the working poor. For big families, that is a maximum of nearly US$24,000, as long as they can document their earnings during those years.

Some Republicans are labeling the payments as "amnesty bonuses", one more reason they oppose Obama's programme shielding millions of immigrants from deportation.

"I represent hard-working, law-biding Texans," said Sam Johnson, a senior Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee.


No rewards


"I think these amnesty rewards, and that's what they are, need to be stopped."

Advocates argue that many of these immigrants pay taxes, so they should be able to claim the same tax credits as anybody else. Over the past decade, immigrants in the US illegally have paid an estimated $100 billion in Social Security payroll taxes, even though few will ever be able to collect benefits, said Stephen Goss, Social Security's chief actuary.

"Let's not forget that these workers receive the lowest wages for what they contribute to their communities and local economies," said Ellen Sittenfeld Battistelli, policy analyst at the National Immigration Law Center.

"What do we as a nation gain by further impoverishing them?"

Obama has issued executive orders shielding about four million immigrants from deportation. Some were brought to the US as children; others are parents of children who are either US citizens or legal residents.