UnidosUS and Affiliates Hear from Capitol Hill and Federal Agencies on Immigration, Taxes and Housing

On February 15, 2023, Affiliate Leaders and UnidosUS staff and leadership attended meetings with Senator Padilla, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of the Treasury 

Meeting with Senator Alex Padilla on Immigration

U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (CA) met with UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía and UnidosUS Affiliates. Sen. Padilla is the first Latino to represent California in the U.S. Senate and is a proud son of Mexican immigrants. He also serves as the first Latino to lead the Immigration Subcommittee.

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The meeting focused on the issue of immigration reform. UnidosUS’s Janet Murguía stressed that immigrants are once again in the crosshairs of anti-immigrant extremists in Congress. UnidosUS stands firmly in the belief that enforcement-only policies, or closing the doors to those seeking refuge, will not solve our challenges on the border and that an overhaul and update to our whole immigration system is needed. According to an NBC news poll, 80% of Americans agree with us and support immigration reform with a path to citizenship. The Executive Director of Academia Avance public charter school, Ricardo Mireles, also shared the impact of immigration enforcement on students’ families and how access to legal counsel is critical to protecting students’ parents from deportation. 

Senator Padilla heard the concerns of UnidosUS and Affiliates and agreed to work with us to protect immigrants with deep roots and strong family ties in the U.S. 

Meeting with the Treasury on Taxes 

UnidosUS and Affiliates met with the U.S. Department of the Treasury to discuss Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN), the tax processing number issued to non-citizens, and how the IRS can lessen the burden for Latinos and other vulnerable communities in obtaining them.  

During the 2020 and 2021 filing years, some applicants waited as long as a year to have  their ITINs processed and original documents returned to them. Even without the backlogs, the process of acquiring an ITIN number and navigating the tax system is particularly burdensome for immigrant taxpayers. The application must be submitted by mail, accompanied by a tax return, paper filed, with the assistance of a Certifying Acceptance Agent (CAA), a specialized group that is not easily accessible to most filers; or they must submit original documentation to the IRS, which closed its in-person assistance centers during the pandemic. We urged IRS to modernize the ITIN application process for and to reduce the burden on immigrant families.  The meeting concluded with a resolution to develop plans to strengthen the relationships between the Treasury and UnidosUS staff and Affiliates.

Meeting with HUD on Housing 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) met with UnidoUS and Affiliates for a productive and collaborative discussion focused on addressing the unique housing and homeownership needs and challenges faced by the Latino community. 

Latino households experienced an increase in homeownership between 2019 and 2021, despite being hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic. The improvements in the Latino homeownership rate demonstrates that progress is possible, and we applaud and support HUD’s recent work and dedication to improving housing stability and homeownership for the Latino community. But more is needed. The homeownership gap is still well over 20 percent and continued effort, and action is required for the Latino community to maintain and expand these gains. This includes creating pathways for Hispanic homebuyers to be stably and securely housed, creating avenues for non-US citizens to access safe and affordable credit, afford a down payment, get approved for a sustainable loan, access to starter homes, receive culturally competent counseling, and build intergenerational wealth by resolving ownership discrepancies.   

HUD expressed interest in working with UnidosUS and our Affiliates to improve the housing outcomes for the Latino community.