More Benefits for Illegal Aliens are a Bad Break for California Taxpayers

Californians might be staring at a 16.3 percent unemployment rate, a $54 billion budget deficit and crisis-level homelessness, but that is not stopping lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from including tax breaks and more benefits for illegal aliens in the latest budget.

The budget agreement worked out by the Democrat-controlled legislature and Newsom not only extends health care coverage to senior illegal aliens but also permits illegal aliens with children under age six who file taxes with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) to collect the California Earned Income Tax Credit and the Young Child Tax Credit programs. These tax credits could be claimed by an estimated 32,000 to 46,000 families.

California became one of the 28 states and the District of Columbia to have an equivalent of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) when then-Gov. Jerry Brown created the California Earned Income Tax Credit in 2015. The cost of giving tax breaks to illegal immigrants with at least one child under the age of six carries a $65 million price tag, according to the state Legislative Analyst.

What would prompt state lawmakers and Gov. Newsom to provide tax benefits to illegal immigrants at a time when the state is experiencing a spike in the number of coronavirus cases and the partial re-implementation of a lockdown on businesses? The answer, according to the credits’ biggest supporters, is political pressure.

Alissa Anderson, a policy analyst at the California Budget Policy Center, attributed the success in securing additional tax benefits to the “growing momentum” that was built after nearly five years of lobbying from immigrant advocates.

Mike Herald, policy advocacy director at the Western Center on Law & Poverty also argued that pressure from the illegal alien lobby was responsible for getting approval.

“It’s really important to recognize how far we’ve been able to come at the state level, because a few years ago these bills were not being introduced. They would not be taken seriously,” said Herald.

Another pro-mass immigration advocate made clear that this is just the beginning. Sasha Feldstein, economic justice policy manager at the California Immigrant Policy Center, expressed some disappointment, saying, “Unfortunately, this is nowhere near enough.”

The insanity of enacting tax breaks for illegal aliens is quite clear. And for some time it was clear even to Gov. Newsom and members of his administration. Last year, lawmakers called for an expansion of California’s EITC, but Newsom’s own budget director told a legislative hearing in June 2019, “We are not able to finance that in our budget proposal at this time.”

The pressure increased and local officials joined in pushing Newsom to extend the tax credits to illegal immigrants in December, but when he released a budget plan in January – before the coronavirus pandemic had wreaked further havoc on the Golden State’s finances – Newsom did not include the tax credits. He did, however, add a provision offering health coverage to illegal seniors, which would cost $121 million annually.

Nor was it in his revised budget released in May when the state’s unemployment rate had spiked to 15.5 percent. When lawmakers inserted the tax credits for illegal aliens into their budget proposal unveiled earlier in June, the Sacramento Bee reported that Finance Department officials said Newsom remained skeptical. 

The unemployment rate in California is now 16.3 percent, so it makes even less sense to use limited taxpayer funds (once again) to benefit illegal aliens. But what makes the tax breaks truly reprehensible is that giving illegal aliens coronavirus relief funds and covering health care for seniors in the country illegally are program expenditures which are subject to annual review. However, tax breaks are not always up for debate in the legislature on an annual basis, so they are much harder to repeal. Either way, it is California’s taxpayers who will bear the growing burden for politician’s political ploys.

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