Washington Examiner

The Child Tax Credit should be assisting American families, not illegal immigrants

By Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith

When Republicans reclaimed majorities in the Senate and House in 1994 after more than five decades of ineffective Democratic rule, they recognized that the American dream was drifting out of reach for most people. This recognition spurred the creation of the federal Child Tax Credit.  

Since its enactment, the Child Tax Credit has stood as a testament to Republican principles of family values and economic empowerment. Times have changed, however, and it is now crucial to shore up this important tax credit to protect it from abuse and to better control its contribution to our increasingly troubling national debt.

Today, families who rely on the Child Tax Credit feel the effects of Bidenomics with its entrenched inflationary prices and a federal budget strained by an unsustainable national debt. The tax credit and the national debt will soon be put under even greater pressure as a result of President Joe Biden exacerbating the nation’s economic challenges by rewarding millions of illegal immigrants with access to this credit. Worse still, this policy will further incentivize welfare over work — at the expense of the taxpayer.

An estimated 10 million people have crossed the southern border under the Biden administration, with thousands more crossing daily. Because illegal immigration was not the problem it was 25 years ago, the Republican authors of the Child Tax Credit did not foresee the need to add greater protections from abuse in relation to noncitizens accessing the benefit. But these protections are desperately needed today.

As it stands, noncitizens can claim the Child Tax Credit as long as they have one child with a valid Social Security number for employment purposes. But after 2025, noncitizens will be able to claim the credit if they have a Social Security number with no restriction for issuance or an individual taxpayer identification number, which are issued by the IRS to anyone who requests one, legal or not.

This broken system creates yet another incentive for people to enter our country illegally, knowing they can claim thousands of dollars through this program, along with any other benefits they can squeeze out of the system. 

The bottom line is that the lack of strict Social Security number verification has created a system where deserving, hardworking taxpayers end up footing the bill for billions of dollars in benefits to people in our country who are here illegally. This is an injustice to American citizens and undermines the very principle of fairness our tax system should uphold.

As it turns out, most people agree. According to the Center for Excellence in Polling, 72% of those polled responded “No” when asked, “Should illegal immigrants be able to receive the Child Tax Credit?” Only 22% said “Yes.”

That’s why I recently introduced the Safeguarding American Workers’ Benefits Act to right this wrong and save billions of dollars. This legislation would require taxpayers and their qualifying children claiming the Child Tax Credit to have a valid Social Security number for employment purposes, guaranteeing that they are American citizens or are in this country legally.

This commonsense bill will save taxpayers more than $24.5 billion, stop the abuse of tax credits by illegal immigrants, and promote fiscal responsibility. Like its companion bill in the House, introduced by U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA), my legislation is the type of straightforward solution that Washington politicians loathe: a “no-brainer.” 

But my colleagues must act — and quickly. To underscore the extent of the issue, if enacted today, my legislation would need to address a staggering average of 1,250,000 illegal immigrants claiming the Child Tax Credit annually over the next decade to achieve the $24.5 billion price tag. And if left unaddressed, that number will continue to skyrocket.

This legislation is not about denying assistance to those in need, but rather ensuring that taxpayer-funded benefits are reserved for American citizens who contribute to our society. With implementation of the Safeguarding American Workers’ Benefits Act, we can restore accountability and ensure that this taxpayer-funded benefit serves its intended purpose: assisting American families in raising our next generation.

Cindy Hyde-Smith is a U.S. senator for Mississippi and serves on the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.