We Will Remember Votes for Anti-Latino Amendments to the Senate Budget Bill [Updated]

By Leticia Miranda, Senior Policy Advisor, Economic Security Policy, NCLR


As senators consider which amendments to vote for as part of the Senate budget bill today, they should remember that Latino voters will hold them accountable at the ballot box for any anti-Latino votes made. The Senate budget bill is particularly dangerous because each amendment requires only a simple majority to pass. These votes will take place with only a few minutes of debate on each amendment in a dreaded process called vote-a-rama that often stretches into the middle of the night. Senators are not likely to have much advance notice of what the amendments will be.

If more than 51 senators vote for a slew of anti-Latino and anti-immigrant amendments, the stage will surely be negatively set for the upcoming immigration reform debates. Senate insiders have told me that likely amendments may be offered include one that would raise taxes on hardworking, taxpaying Latino families with children. Legislators are proposing cutting off access to the Child Tax Credit for taxpayers who use individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs). We estimate that more than four million Latino children and their families could lose out on this valuable tax credit if this restriction passes, pushing these families back into poverty.

Child Tax Credit Advocates

The mere consideration of this proposal is outrageous. Latino voters are paying close attention to how policymakers treat our community. Given that one out of every four Latino children would face greater hunger and poverty as a result of this proposal, it is hard to see this as anything less than an attack on Latino kids. This isn’t the first time they have tried, either. NCLR’s Action Network responded with more than 5,000 letters in 2012 when Congress last tried to strip this important credit—and we won. Congress should pass a fair budget plan that maintains access to the Child Tax Credit for all hardworking taxpaying families.

It doesn’t end there. Lawmakers are stirring up myths about immigrants and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to use the program as their own piggy bank. This week they could advance an amendment to eliminate outreach services that help eligible Americans access the program when they need it. Another amendment would deny U.S. citizen children living in mixed-immigration status families from being able to access SNAP. Undocumented immigrants are already ineligible for SNAP and even many legal immigrants face strenuous waiting periods. SNAP is one of our most important tools to combat hunger, and Latino citizen children would suffer the worst of this attack should these proposals go forward. Put simply, this amendment would usher eligible children and families on the brink of hunger, right into it.

Another amendment that may be offered would limit the ability of newly legalized immigrant workers to get official credits for their prior earnings history and tax contributions to the Social Security system. Hardworking undocumented immigrants pay billions in taxes each year to support Social Security and these payments contribute to the solvency of the system for all Americans. In 2007 alone, they paid $12 billion. It is unfair and unjust that they be denied credit for their hard work and their hefty contributions.

No amendments can pass without bi-partisan support. Both parties will harm their brands in the eyes of Latino voters if they advance amendments designed to hurt mainly hardworking Latino immigrant families who are paying taxes.

In the aftermath of the 2012 election, many politicians on both sides of the aisle have spoken about the need to attract more Hispanic voters. If courting Latino voters is a goal, hurting millions of Latino children and their hardworking parents is not the way to achieve it.

Call your Senator today and tell them to vote no on any anti-Latino amendments to the Senate budget bill by dialing the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.


Six anti-immigrant amendments were filed yesterday.  They are worse than we anticipated and some new ones are entirely surprising.  Sponsoring these amendments are Senators Sessions from Alabama and Vitter from Louisiana, both long time proponents of punitive actions toward immigrants.  NCLR opposes all of these anti-immigrant amendments.  More may still come up.

Though none of these amendments will become law because the Senate budget bill they are tied to is going nowhere, these amendments set a bad precedent as we go into immigration reform.  Call your Senator now and urge them to oppose these amendments.  The Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121.  Here they are:

Sessions amendment #209 would deny all refundable tax credits to legalizing workers during their “provisional status,” when they become Legal Permanent Residents and possibly even after they become citizens.  Any person who was once an undocumented worker would be subject to a different tax code—and would need to pay much higher taxes than all other Americans.  These families would not be eligible for the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit nor the AOTC designed to help families pay for their child’s college costs.  This amendment would drive child poverty higher.

Sessions #208 would deny newly legalized individuals from qualifying for federally subsidized health care.  These workers and families would be forced to get their healthcare at emergency rooms instead of doctor offices where it’s cheaper.

Sessions #207 would eliminate outreach services that inform eligible Latinos about the SNAP program.  Undocumented immigrants are already ineligible for SNAP, and even many legal immigrants face strenuous waiting periods.  This amendment would increase hunger among Latino children.

Vitter #333 would change the Child Tax Credit eligibility requirement to specifically exclude those who pay their taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).  This would exclude over four million Latino children from benefitting from the Child Tax Credit.

Vitter #334 would prohibit granting legal status to undocumented individuals before an entry-exit data system is in place. This amendment belongs in the immigration debate, not the budget debate.

Vitter #337 would impose a tax on international remittance transfers if the sender is unable to verify legal status in the United States.  Thus immigrants sending money to relatives back home would pay a new tax.  This amendment turns workers at Western Union, Walmart and your local bank into immigration agents and burdens small businesses.

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