Much turmoil has arisen in light of President Barack Obama’s recent efforts to bolster the rights of undocumented immigrants seeking American citizenship. While the president’s actions have been widely documented in the news over the past few months, it seems that Republicans and dissenting voices in the immigration reform conversation have developed a new strategy against his plan. According to multiple news outlets, the GOP is now hoping to use a piece of tax policy to change the status of undocumented immigrants currently protected from deportation under Obama’s immigration actions.
Earned Income Credit
Effectively, the new Republic strategy centers on something called the earned income tax credit (EIC), according to USA Today. The earned income tax credit is designed to account for work that an individual or a family completed in prior tax years, allowing them to gain tax credits for income that does not affect the fiscal year for which they are filing. Republican actions, which are still being formulated by the party, center on passing legislation that would inhibit undocumented immigrants from being able to file for this. Republicans claim that this is centered in a desire to save both state and local governments money. While estimates are not yet entirely clear, the Latin Post reports that the Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan group, has said that disallowing the 4 million undocumented immigrants protected by Obama’s order to file for the EIC would save the government more than $2 billion.
The EIC, of course, only comes into play when one considers the fiscal implications of the president’s executive orders on immigration. As multiple news sources have reported, president Obama’s immigration actions would allow for many undocumented immigrants to apply for and receive Social Security cards in order to file tax returns. Proponents of immigration reform say that this is a positive step, as it allows for previously undocumented work to benefit the nations tax structure and public works systems. Dissenting voices, though, have argued that in addition to the savings that denying EIC eligibility to these individuals would cause, it may be impossible or extremely difficult for undocumented immigrants to file tax returns for prior years at all. This is due to the fact that undocumented workers are paid off the record. Essentially, in order to prepare their tax returns from prior years, undocumented immigrants would need to be able to put together files and documents proving their total earnings from years when they had no legal status.
Reactions to the news of Republican plans to invoke the EIC in future legislation has been mixed. Obviously, those who support immigration reform feel as though it’s a last ditch effort to block Obama’s executive actions, but Republicans maintain that the move is strictly motivated by fiscal concern. In speaking with USA Today, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, furthered these thoughts.
“It’s just part of correcting what the president has put in place when he legalized people through his November action,” said Grassley.