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Press Release: Coalition Denounces Attack Against Mostly Latino Working Families


Jan. 13, 2014

Adela de la Torre, National Immigration Law Center,, 213-400-7822*

Faith, Latino, Labor, Immigrants’ and Children’s Advocates Urge Defeat of Senate Amendment Pitting Poor Children Against Unemployed

WASHINGTON — The Senate must reject an immoral political move that would pit the well-being of children against the unemployed, faith, labor, civil rights and immigration leaders said Monday.

During a press teleconference call, the coalition denounced a plan by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) to offset the cost of extending unemployment insurance by denying more than 2 million working, taxpaying families — mostly Latino — the Child Tax Credit (CTC) that helps provide for their children. Advocates noted that Ayotte and Senate conservatives are effectively holding hostage approval of the emergency program for the jobless that expired at the end of 2013 unless tax credits for children are rolled back.

“Senator Kelly Ayotte says she understands families, but her proposal to deny a child tax credit to a taxpaying immigrant family is an attack on innocent children. Pitting children against the long-term unemployed is nothing more than an ugly attempt to derail legislation to extend emergency unemployment for struggling families,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice group. “Her proposed amendment should be soundly defeated as antithetical to the Gospel call to care for children and those at the margins of society, and to long-held values in our nation.”

Community leaders agreed that the disproportionate impact on low-wage workers and their families, including four million U.S. citizen children, upends America’s high moral beliefs.

"This cynical proposal doesn't reflect the America I have come to know and love as an immigrant. My America doesn’t need to pit the jobless against the children of immigrants. We are better than that," said Tefere Gebre, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO.

As part of the federal tax system, U.S. workers who are ineligible for a Social Security number — including individuals who are lawfully present — file their taxes with an ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number) and are eligible to apply for the Child Tax Credit. Ayotte’s proposal would deny CTC eligibility to families who file their taxes using an ITIN, directly attacking the welfare of about five million children in low-wage families.

“To deny the Child Tax Credit to any child is simply bad policy and runs contrary to our American values. Congress should be focusing on policies that invest in kids and support working families, not policies that threaten to drive even more children into poverty. We urge Congress to find a smarter solution and do children no harm,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus Campaign for Children.

Lesley pointed out that polling commissioned by his organization found that 68 percent of voters oppose cuts to the Child Tax Credit.

“On the 50th anniversary of President Johnson's speech declaring a war on poverty, it's appalling that some in Congress are advocating for proposals that would throw millions of children further into poverty," said Eric Rodriguez, vice president of the Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). “Hispanic voters are closely watching how this debate unfolds and will not stand for an attack on their children and the most vulnerable in the Latino community.”

Don Lyster, director of the National Immigration Law Center’s Washington, DC, office and moderator of the press conference, said, “This strident proposal is unnecessary. The senators have promoted the falsehood that their r