'Mixed-status' family of citizens asks why they don't qualify for COVID-19 stimulus funds

Published: Apr. 22, 2020 at 11:08 PM CDT
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For many, much-needed stimulus checks have been flowing into bank accounts in recent days. But 6 News has learned that some citizens are finding they don't qualify, and they don't know why.

One local family is trying to find out why they seem to be an exception.

Irene and her five children were all born in the U.S., but she says her whole family has been excluded from receiving stimulus checks because her husband isn’t a citizen.

"I realized, no, I’m out. I’m really out," she said.

Irene asked not show her face or use her last name, fearing it would jeopardize her husband's immigration case. He files taxes with individual taxpayer identification number, or I-TIN.

The National Immigration Law Center said because they live in a mixed-status household, no one under Irene’s roof is eligible for any government benefits.

"Not sure what happened, but we are U.S. citizens," Irene said. "I mean, we know the one that that does have the I-TIN should be excluded, but but it’s not fair to us."

She and her five children aren’t getting a penny from the government.

"Millions of families like myself have to be excluded like we are — is that OK to exclude U.S. citizens?" she said.

Irene is still able to work, but the pandemic has kept her husband away from his job, and his status means he can’t collect unemployment.

Like many others, her family was counting on that stimulus money.

"It’s really unknown, and I don’t know what they’re going to do," she said.

Irene has checked with the IRS multiple times to see whether there is any change, but she keeps getting a notification telling her they aren’t sure whether she’s eligible.

"It’s not fair that we’re left out," she said.

Irene fears it’s too late for mixed-status households to expect any help. Her hope is that by speaking out, her family and community won’t be forgotten next time.

"No one‘s going to help us now, but maybe later on, when something else happens, you’re like, 'Hey, wait. Let’s not forget about them also," she said.

6 News did reach out to her congressman, Rep. Don Bacon. He’s having someone in his office reach out to Irene tomorrow to assess their situation and find out what can be done to help.