Senate mulls legislation that would prohibit states from distributing rescue funds to illegal immigrants

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) has introduced new legislation to the Senate that would prohibit states from distributing coronavirus rescue funds to illegal immigrants. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) controversial HEROES act seeks to authorize direct payments to millions of illegal immigrants, setting the legislature up for a major fight in the coming days.

Immigration showdown

The ever-polarizing issue of illegal immigration has come to the forefront of debates over the additional appropriation of coronavirus rescue funds.

Cotton argued that “we shouldn’t be spending hard-earned taxpayer dollars on illegal immigrants at a time when 35 million Americans are out of work.”

“If we are going to be giving relief checks to those people who are out of work, we need to focus on American citizens, not illegal immigrants,” he said during a Fox News appearance.

Cotton’s proposal, the No Bailouts for Illegal Aliens Act, would “prohibit sending future funds to states or municipalities until they certify they aren’t issuing stimulus checks or other payments to those in the United States illegally.”

Cotton’s main premise is that “the federal government shouldn’t be subsidizing states’ efforts to send cash to illegal aliens,” according to a press release from his office.

California leads the way

California is one of the main states that would be targeted by the new legislation. California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) has repeatedly pressed the federal government for $1 trillion in aid as the state reels from the impact of extended shutdowns.

Newsom, on behalf of a coalition of several western states, asked for a massive bailout to cover historic budget shortfalls in mid-May.

Newsom said on Many 18 that if the federal government did not comply with requests for additional bailout funds, “the true heroes of this pandemic,” — healthcare workers, police, and firefighters, — would be “the first ones to be laid off.”

While Newsom threatened to gut emergency preparedness and law enforcement, he didn’t address his mid-April decision to allocate millions of taxpayer dollars for cash payments to illegal immigrants in the state.

Cotton’s proposed legislation would prohibit states from receiving additional bailout funds if they pay illegal immigrants, but would not affect Paycheck Protection Program loans, unemployment benefits and relief checks for citizens residing in those states.

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