Thousands of legal working immigrants could be denied access to one of the country’s most successful antipoverty programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), under proposed changes to federal welfare legislation. Still in negotiation, the Senate Finance Committee has proposed funding $6 billion in child care for welfare recipients in part by denying EITC benefits to families where any member, including children, does not possess a social security number that is valid for employment. “We were really taken by surprise by this new restriction,” said Jonathan Blazer, an attorney with the National Immigration Law Center, a DC-based advocacy group. “We are outraged that Congress would essentially vote to raise taxes on working, low-income immigrant families who are lawfully present in the U.S.” The proposal is so extreme that even child care advocates, who’ve long championed an increase in funding for care, have lobbied the Senate to rescind it. While numbers for New York were not available, a 2001 Treasury report found that more than 330,000 families nationwide annually claim the EITC with Social Security numbers that are not valid for employment. [03/28/05]
-T. McMillan