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They're Considered Essential, But Some Undocumented Workers in Central Florida Won't Get a Stimulus Check

Photo: Annie Shelmerdine @anneshel24
Photo: Annie Shelmerdine @anneshel24

They bag groceries, pick produce, and work in healthcare and education, but they won’t receive stimulus checks because they’re undocumented.

Only people with social security numbers can qualify to receive this assistance.

The Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or ITIN that undocumented workers use to pay taxes will actually disqualify them from receiving a stimulus paycheck. 

Only workers who have social security numbers or whose partner was in the military in 2019 can qualify for the $1,200 dollar stimulus check for individuals, and the $2,400 dollar check and $500 dollars per child for couples.

Farmworker Association of Florida Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project Coordinator Jeannie Economos says that means people who are considered essential workers won't get the same financial help as their neighbors.

"It just seems very ironic that the people that do some of the most important work that we’re recognizing now are being left out of a package of stimulus that’s supposed to help the economy and help people who are most adversely impacted by the COVID crisis."

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Economos is worried there could be an uptick in homelessness among these workers who already struggle to pay for rent and healthcare. 

Hope CommUnity Center’s Director Laura Pichardo-Cruz says churches and other community nonprofits who are struggling themselves will only be able to act as a safety net up to a point.

“I think it reinforces a message that we already get in this country. And that is that immigrants are lesser than. Despite the fact that everyday they prove otherwise. They show up. They work hard. They pay an unbelievable amount in taxes. And then they do essential work. Without them, we would not have food on our tables.”

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Workers without social security numbers won’t be able to apply for unemployment assistance through the CARE Act's $2 trillion dollar stimulus package either.

If you'd like to listen to the story, click on the clips above.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.
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