Massachusetts and New Jersey See Push for Illegal Alien COVID-19 Stimulus
By David Jaroslav | FAIR Take | April 2020
In the aftermath of California promising coronavirus stimulus payments to illegal aliens, two more states, Massachusetts and New Jersey, are considering similar payments despite less money in their coffers due to the pandemic and the ensuing economic downturn. Their actions to provide funding for those in the country illegally may also impact federal funds to their states since President Trump mentioned limiting or conditioning additional federal coronavirus aid money to states or local governments with sanctuary policies.
In the Bay State, legislation has already been filed that would go beyond California’s proposal. It aims to match the stimulus payments by the federal government to US citizens and legal immigrants.
Senate Bill (SB) 2659, sponsored by Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) and House Docket (HD) 5036 sponsored by Representative Christine Barber (D-Somerville), would:
- provide stimulus checks of $1200 per adult plus $500 per child;
- phase out at $75,000 Adjusted Gross Income for individuals and $150,000 for joint returns;
- require that the recipient have filed a 2018 or 2019 state tax return; and
- only be issued to those who filed taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) rather than a Social Security Number, making US citizens and legal immigrants ineligible.
The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center estimates the bill would cost $58 million, to provide payments to an estimated 57,000 ITIN filers and their dependents. This estimate may be low because FAIR’s 2017 cost study estimated that there were more than 236,000 illegal aliens in Massachusetts. This burden on Massachusetts taxpayers would be in addition to the nearly $2.0 billion that illegal immigration already costs them.
The Senate bill was initially referred to the Joint Committee on Rules which already voted and sent it off for consideration to the Joint Committee on Revenue (JCR). The House bill has also been sent by the House Rules Committee to the JCR. The JCR has not yet set a hearing date for the bills.
Both the Senate and House sponsors have been leading the open-borders charge in Massachusetts, particularly for both sanctuary state bills and legislation to grant driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.
Over the past few years, the Senate has repeatedly been supportive of expanding such benefits and privileges. In the more moderate House, Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) has kept them from being considered on the floor of his chamber, likely to protect some of his more moderate members from having to publicly take positions on them. It is possible this pattern could repeat itself again and the House might never vote on it.
While Governor Charlie Baker (R) does not appear to have yet taken a public position on the bill, he has said he doesn’t plan to file a second supplemental coronavirus budget after the first passed in March, and that he expects to rely on “offsets, reductions … and enhanced federal revenue” for the state’s remaining fiscal needs. It is likely that Governor Baker will veto stimulus bill for illegal aliens. While Democrats have more than the required two-thirds supermajority in each chamber to override his veto, this is unlikely to happen given the Speaker’s past actions.
While no stimulus legislation has yet been introduced in the Garden State, the efforts Governor Phil Murphy (D) and his allies are pushing would go beyond even the proposals in Massachusetts. Governor Murphy says he’s considering stimulus payments of $600 a week to illegal aliens.
How the state legislature would deal with any bills of this magnitude is uncertain. Despite constant pressure to support legislation to benefit illegal aliens, both Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland ), and House Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge) like to portray themselves as moderate, pro-American and pro-labor legislators. In addition, the friction between themselves and Governor Murphy may be an issue.
When Murphy previously demanded driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, the legislative leaders pushed off any hearings or votes on it until after the November 2019 state legislative elections and then rammed the bills through during the lame-duck session in December. While they may face pressure to act quickly on the pandemic stimulus, New Jersey also has numerous competitive congressional elections approaching this November, which could weigh on their minds.
FAIR will continue to monitor developments in both states closely.