The check is not in the mail

Some of us have begun receiving those tax rebate or economic stimulus checks. A certain group of married US citizens won’t be getting their share. From the San Jose Mercury-News

When Congress passed an economic-stimulus package giving hefty rebates to most taxpayers, it tried to make sure that illegal immigrants didn’t get any of the cash.

But in doing so lawmakers inadvertently penalized at least a million legal U.S. residents – and tens of thousands of U.S. troops stationed overseas – simply because their spouses lack a Social Security number.

“Imagine an American soldier in Iraq whose foreign-born wife is waiting for an immigration petition to be approved and doesn’t have a Social Security card. Now the couple can’t even get a rebate,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose. “That is really stupid.”

*****

Because illegal immigrants don’t have Social Security numbers and instead routinely use tax identification numbers, Congress banned rebates for taxpayers who use the IRS-issued numbers.

If a married couple files jointly and one spouse doesn’t have a Social Security number, the couple won’t get the $1,200 check that other couples will receive. They’re also ineligible for the $300 rebate per child. Many armed forces members stationed overseas have foreign spouses who can’t get Social Security numbers.

William Luong, stationed at a U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, Japan, said some of his fellow seamen resent that they’ve landed in the same category as illegal immigrants.

“They understand the reason they’re getting the shaft,” said Luong, 21, who is from the Los Angeles area. “But a lot are frustrated or angry about it.”

More than 288,000 troops are stationed overseas, according to the Pentagon – not counting those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many live in places – Korea, Japan and Germany – where extended stays often result in marriages to locals.

It doesn’t even take an extended stay. Tours in South Korea are usually just for a year, and servicemen meet and marry local women during that short period of time.

This is a rare occasion you’ll find me in agreement with Congresswoman Lofgren. This is really stupid. Congress should see that it gets fixed, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Other legal immigrants caught in this little (or not so little) loophole include legal residents here in the US with spouses still overseas, and H-1B visa holders.

Sloppy legislation like this had to be expected. The tax package was hastily planned and written, and those in their fervor to combat illegal immigrants didn’t think the legislation through, or just oppose all immigration including spouses of US citizens. I do think there are some members of Congress who may fit that description, they’ll just never admit it. The law of unintended consequences rears its ugly head again. Examples like this only further fortify my opinion as to the lunacy of changing birthright citizenship.(Before anyone jumps down my throat on that issue, read the old Wizbang post I just linked to) Any successful attempt at doing that, is going to lead to US citizens getting punished or penalized also. Just like with the tax stimulus package. Simple solutions to complicated problems, rarely work and more often backfire.

Just a reminder-

1 I was once a member of the Navy serving overseas who was married to a foreign national.

2 For some time I’ve been advocating that our military members should get expedited service, reduced fees etc with their immigration matters. Our brave fighting men and women deserve better than being forced to live separate for months or over a year as their spouse’s immigrant spouse petition winds its slow way through the immigration bureaucracy. When I left the Navy, my wife Leonita had to remain behind in the Philippines till her petition was approved and she was notified to come to the US embassy. Our separation lasted approximately 2.5 months.

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