New Child Tax Credit Encourages Illegal Migration, Say Republicans

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Some House Republicans are expressing concern that child tax credits included as part of new tax legislation will encourage illegal immigration.

The Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024, which passed the House on Wednesday evening, by a bipartisan 357-70 vote, would increase and modify child tax credit provisions—such as the low-income housing tax credit. The $78 billion package still needs to be voted on in the Senate.

The legislation was crafted by Missouri Representative Jason Smith, a Republican, and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, to pair an expansion of the child tax credit with several business deductions. If enacted it would benefit an estimated 16 million children from low-income families, according to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a liberal-leaning think tank.

Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) speaks during Press Briefing With U.S. House And Senate Champions, Impacted Families on Expanding the Child Tax Credit During Lame Duck Session on December 07, 2022 in Washington, DC. A $78…


Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Economic Security Project

But some Republicans have complained that it could benefit illegal immigrants.

“This legislation comes with provisions that, frankly, the people I represent are tired of,” Texas Representative Chip Roy, a Republican, said on the House floor on Wednesday. “It’s provisions that would continue to expand the welfare state. … “[The Child Tax Credit] is also available to parents, who are here in this country illegally, of children born in the United States. We think that’s a problem.”

Georgia Representative Andrew Clyde, another Republican, wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that the “swamp” bill will “simply reward and incentivize illegal migration,” calling it “a slap in the face to the American people.”

Wisconsin Representative Tom Tiffany echoed his Republican colleagues, telling Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo on Mornings With Maria on Thursday that the bill “will stifle work, expand welfare, and even allow illegal aliens to cash in on the Child Tax Credit.”

“No Republican should have voted for it,” he said.

But Smith, the bill’s sponsor, told HuffPost that claims from members of his own party are “completely false” and that those children able to qualify require a Social Security number.

He, along with Republican Representative Ralph Norman, acknowledged that Republicans added the same Social Security requirement in 2017.

“It’s the same language that was in [Donald] Trump’s tax cuts of 2017,” Smith said.

House Speaker Mike Johnson supported the bipartisan legislation, which he said would revive “conservative pro-growth tax reform” while also combating the fraud associated with a “wasteful COVID-era program,” according to the Associated Press.

The credit currently provides up to $2,000 per child and could possibly be increased to $5,400 for a family with three children where one parent works full-time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. However, not all of that $2,000 is refundable.

Nationwide child tax credits were distributed by the Internal Revenue Service between July and December 2021, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and kept 3-4 million children out of poverty during that timespan, according to studies. Their discontinuation led to a 41 percent increase in poverty between December 2021 and January 2022.

The new act would also increase tax relief provisions for losses due to natural disasters and wildfires.