Immigrants get help from states, cheer inclusion in US bill

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Lily Guido poses for photos in Sebastopol, Calif., Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. Taxpayers in families that include immigrants in the country illegally are celebrating the December federal relief bill after being excluded from the April relief stimulus. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SANTA FE, N.M. – Lily Guido was having trouble hearing and she felt warm while talking to her co-worker at a California nursing home. She knew something was wrong.

Fearing the coronavirus, Guido, 30, of Santa Rosa, California, didn't go home to avoid possibly spreading it to her five children, isolating in a hotel room provided for health care workers like her.

“They confirmed that I had COVID, and my husband was like, ‘Oh God, what’s going to happen?'" she said last week. “I couldn’t take it. I was in tears. I was in denial.”

Out of work, her family's bills began to pile up this summer. While Guido is a U.S. citizen, and so are her children, her family hadn't gotten a relief check from the federal government in the spring because she files taxes jointly with her husband, Erik, who is an immigrant in the country illegally and not eligible for any federal payments.

An estimated 1.4 million spouses and 3.7 million children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents in mixed-status families like Guido's were cut out of the payments that many needed as the pandemic tanked the economy, according to tax data analysis by the Migration Policy Institute.

That's changed in the latest federal relief package. Guido celebrated that her family and others like them would get checks this time around, as well as a retroactive $1,200 tax credit.

“Mixed-status families with children count,” Guido said. “That makes such a big difference. And I jump for joy, you know, for those people that unfortunately aren’t able to work during this pandemic.”

But even in the latest bill, some 2.2 million children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents will be left out again because both their parents are in the country illegally, according to the Migration Policy Institute. That means no $600 check per child.