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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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Comments (10)

I'm suspicious of stories l... (Below threshold)

I'm suspicious of stories like this.

They couldn't find a single example of a person this affected? Instead, they find someone with second hand knowledge.

Somehow, this appears to me to be one of those, "Look what happens when you mess with illegals!" non-arguments.

Might there be 1 or 2 people who got hit by this? Maybe, but that's expected. 10's to 100's of thousands? I seriously doubt it.

Baggi,You don't kn... (Below threshold)


You don't know much about immigration or military serving overseas.

John Smith meets Yuka, a Japanese woman while John is stationed in Japan. They fall in love and marry. After their wedding, John does the immigrant relative petition for Yuka, while they live together as husband and wife. Either in on-base housing or off-base housing. The immigrant relative petition takes approximately a year.

During that time, Yuka can live with her spouse, but won't have a SS#. She won't receive one till after her petition is approved and she enters the United States.

My wife didn't get a SS# till December 1989. We married May 30th of the same year.

In any given year hundreds or if not over a thousand, of our military members marry foreign nationals. The US has thousands of soldiers based in Germany, South Korea, and Japan. Its a fact. That the San Jose paper couldn't come up with a example doesn't mean it isn't true.

Have I got this right? The... (Below threshold)

Have I got this right? The US citizens referred to in the article still get the (single) stimulus rebate, but not the larger couples amount because their spouse doesn't have a SS#. And the reason the spouse doesn't have a SS# is because they aren't a US citizen?

Sounds not unreasonable. But I'd like to see what the IRS says about this-- not really trusting the slant that the San Jose paper put on this.

When did these spouses appl... (Below threshold)

When did these spouses apply for a Social Security number? Wouldn't they have started the paperwork on that immediately after they got married? (Or as soon as possible?)

If they only married legally in the foreign country and not in the U.S., or hadn't begun or completed the petition, then that's unfortunate. Nothing should be done for them, however.

As the spouse of a formerly active-duty/now reservist, I am certainly sympathetic to such a plight.

In addition, H1B holders ARE NOT entitled to the surplus, nor are L1s, Ps, Os, TNs, or any other classification. If you do not have a properly adjudicated immigrant visa, legal permanent resident, refugee, or asylee status, you should not receive the credit, just as you should not receive credit for non-adjudicated petitions for spouses, children, etc.

Bill wrote:You ... (Below threshold)

Bill wrote:

You don't know much about immigration or military serving overseas.

I've worked for immigration for the past 12 years. First for the INS and now DHS.

I still doubt the veracity of the story you've posted.

In addition, H1B holders ARE NOT entitled to the surplus, nor are L1s, Ps, Os, TNs, or any other classification.

I agree with this. The big ones though are the H's and the L's. They have become de-facto immigrants even though those are non-immigrant classifications.

The law says that if you are an intended immigrant without proper immigrant documentation then you are inadmissible to the united states (section 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(II) of the Immigration and Nationality Act or INA). However, almost all H1B's and L's are intended immigrants. Almost all of them adjust from non-immigrant to immigrant while they are here working in the United States.

So i'm sure the logical conclusion for most people who are aware of this is, "If they're de-facto immigrants, then why shouldn't they get the tax refund like everyone else?"

Baggi,See, I'm of ... (Below threshold)


See, I'm of two minds on that. Most H1Bs and L1s do wind up paying U.S. taxes, and when that happens I find the idea easier to digest. Less so for F-1s. However, a nonimmigrant visa is a nonimmigrant visa.

In some ways, its similar to those that become LPRs and don't naturalize, get in trouble years later, and wind up involved in a 240 removal. If the person did not take the appropriate steps to avoid the situation (Naturalize!) then they have nobody to blame.

..or just oppose all ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

..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

Yikes. Can you name at least one of these people and provide the least bit of proof for that wild accusation?

I don't know if I did what ... (Below threshold)

I don't know if I did what the government was looking for on this one. I blew a chunk at the casino, but that's an American business with American employees, right? I also paid a lot of bills I was lagging on, but I think that helps me financially a lot more than our nation's economy. I went crazy at the grocery store and Shopko. I bought food that I never would buy usually. A huge lot of nice steaks, halibut, and shrimp sitting in my freezer. I was also able to lavish my Mom and wife with a record-breaking Mother's Day.

I guess I'm wondering, did I do what I was supposed to do with my free money?

I am one of the examples me... (Below threshold)

I am one of the examples mentioned above and it saddens me to read that some of you don't believe the story of how we in the Military marry Local Nationals, have families while serving our country and then get overlooked by our government. Even if our spouse's don't get the stimulus payment, don't you think that the ones that have valid socials should get the payment. My son and I both have socials, but because my wife does not, all of us are disqualifed.

Served in Iraq and now in Japan. I hear on the news each day of how the people back home support the troops, but when it comes to really supporting us our government falls short.

I too have fallen vic... (Below threshold)
SGT Hunter, L:

I too have fallen victim to our countries endless love and support for it's service members. I have nearly eight years of service in the USArmy, still proudly serving. The argument isn't if this is happening to the people who spend countless days away from their loved ones, missing holidays, birthdays or for that fact, the birth of their first child; the people who are deprived of sleep or food; the soldiers who risk their lives everyday, or even die everyday for this country. Oh no, it is happening to us. I, amongst thousands and thousands of other service members, do not qualify for the stimulus check for the simple fact that my legal resident, German wife, is not a citizen. They teach us in the Army never to complain and to love our country, to die for our country if need be. Now I've complied for a long time but this my friends is bullsh*t! Why is this not on CNN? Alot of times I find myself wondering do we really understand the importance of our service members... if we did, then we'd not allow this to happen...
God bless all of our service members!..... ARMY STRONG!!!






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