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H.R. 7043 (116th): No Bailouts for Illegal Aliens Act

Should California’s new $75 million experiment be allowed by the federal government?


March’s $2 trillion CARES Act gave money to people and businesses affected by the covid-19 pandemic, with much of the money going to states and localities to distribute. However, most forms of federal assistance do not apply to undocumented immigrants, of whom there were about 10.5 million total in the United States in 2017.

So, in mid-May, California implemented a $75 million taxpayer fund for undocumented immigrants during the pandemic, which comes out to be about $500 per person. The taxpayer funds are complemented by $50 million from private philanthropic organizations.

What the legislation does

The No Bailouts for Illegal Aliens Act would explicitly clarify that CARES Act funds will be ineligible for any state or municipality which issues “stimulus checks or other payments” to the undocumented.

The legislative text clarifies that it will not affect any CARES Act money that’s already been given to businesses or individuals.

The Senate version was introduced on May 21 as bill number S. 3796, by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR). The House version was introduced a week later on May 28 as bill number H.R. 7043, by Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO4).

What supporters say

Supporters argue the legislation prioritizes the money for hardworking Americans who have obeyed all laws.

“With more than 40 million Americans out of work, it is unfair to send hard-earned taxpayer dollars to non-citizens who entered this country illegally,” Rep. Buck said in a press release. “We need to prioritize the American people by making sure taxpayers are not subsidizing blue states’ plans to give cash payments to illegal immigrants.”

“Congress passed the CARES Act to help workers impacted by the China virus pandemic, not to give a handout to those who broke our immigration laws,” Sen. Cotton said in a separate press release. “The federal government shouldn’t be subsidizing states’ efforts to send cash to illegal aliens.”

What opponents say

Opponents counter that, especially in places like California, undocumented immigrants deserve the money because they pay taxes into the system but are ineligible for much federal aid.

The undocumented paid “just last year, over two and a half billion dollars of local and state taxes [in California],” Gov. Newsom said at a press conference. “Those are individuals that do not benefit from the PUA [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance] program, don’t benefit from the uninsurance benefit program, don’t benefit from the stimulus that was just signed by the president.”

“This is a state where 27% of us are foreign-born,” Gov. Newsom said at a press conference. “That’s diversity at a scale that doesn’t exist in any other state in our nation. Regardless of your status — documented or undocumented — there are people in need, and this is a state that steps up always to support those in need.”

Odds of passage

The House version has attracted 18 cosponsors, all Republicans. It awaits a potential vote in the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Odds of passage are low in the Democratic-controlled chamber.

The Senate version has not yet attracted any cosponsors, and awaits a potential vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee. It’s unclear why the bill has found so much more support in the lower chamber than the upper chamber.

Last updated Jun 12, 2020. View all GovTrack summaries.

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on May 28, 2020.

No Bailouts for Illegal Aliens Act

This bill withholds funding authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) from any state or municipality that provides relief payments through a program targeted exclusively to individuals who are believed to be unlawfully present in the United States.