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Immigrant advocates worry about job losses in Arizona

Posted at 7:50 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 22:50:41-04

PHOENIX — In the face of the current health crisis, immigrant advocates worry about the impact COVID-19 would have in the undocumented community.

“Undocumented immigrants pay taxes too and they’re being left out.”

Undocumented immigrants pay taxes and use tax-supported services like roads and schools, but they likely won’t receive any benefits from the stimulus package, no check, no unemployment.

Everk Sanchez, a Valley resident, is trying to change the outcome for undocumented immigrants, “undocumented immigrants pay taxes too, and they’re being left out.”

So, he started a petition in hoping he can inform, others about the importance of the undocumented workforce and their contributions to the economy, it’s a message he hopes lawmakers will listen to.

“They’re scared they don’t know what to do. Most of them work, two to three jobs and now they have to stay home and take care of the kids and those kids are citizens,” said Sanchez.

Everk Sanchez is a U.S. Citizen, but he says he felt the need to speak up for those who can’t when he read the plans for a COVID-19 stimulus package, a plan that he says didn’t seem to include any type of relief for undocumented immigrants.

“There are a lot of small businesses that open their doors using the ITIN number and they pay taxes as small businesses they contribute to the economy of the state and country,” said Sanchez.

Unauthorized immigrants are in fact eligible to file taxes. The Internal Revenue Service, IRS, provides them with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, also known as an ITIN number. Unauthorized immigrants can pay taxes to the Federal Government, but are not eligible for social benefits or the earned income tax credit.

“However you feel politically about the immigrant community, right now is not the time to be us versus them because we’re in it together and without them, this community will fall apart,” said Lydia Guzman, with Chicanos Por La Causa.

Guzman says she also hopes to see some changes that include undocumented families.

“Those that have been paying taxes, these folks should be entitled to receive the same type of assistance, without it, these families would fall apart,” she said. “What happens if they can’t receive the support, these are our friends, our neighbors, we worshiped with them.”

For Sanchez it’s important to think about everyone regardless of legal status, “the virus is not only for residents or citizens. Everyone is impacted by this.”

ABC15 reached out for comment to Arizona Reps. Debbie Lesko and Andy Biggs, but have yet to receive a response.

In the face of the current health crisis, immigrant advocates worry about the impact COVID-19 would have in the undocumented community.