Illegal immigrants could lose federal health, tax benefits

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Immigrants in the United States illegally face the prospect of losing some federal health and tax benefits through administration and congressional action.

Senate Republicans Wednesday proposed changing the law to preclude illegal immigrants from receiving the child tax credit and use the savings to pay for the three-month extension in unemployment benefits and repeal scheduled cuts to military pensions, Washington publication the Hill reported.


The Republicans say it would save $20 billion, more than offsetting the $6 billion in military pension costs and $6 billion in jobless benefits.

The Washington Times said the IRS' internal auditor determined in 2011 that in the previous year $4.2 billion in child tax credits went to people not authorized to work in the United States. The IRS' position has been that it doesn't believe the law allows it to deny the tax credit to illegal immigrants.

The amendment by Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., would be attached to the unemployment insurance bill.

"I will not vote to end debate without offsets," Ayotte said. "And I think what's telling about this is that we've introduced a common-sense proposal for an offset."

The Hill said Democrats have signaled they may be open to offsets to cover the cost of the jobless benefits and military pensions, but it wasn't clear if they would go for the GOP senators' plan.


Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday offsets must be "reasonable."

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said Tuesday he wouldn't go for Ayotte's proposal.

Republican lawmakers have stiffened at the Democrats' proposal to come up with more money by closing overseas corporate tax loopholes, the Hill said.

While Congress wrangles with the child tax credit issue, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is to publish new regulations Friday that would deny Medicare prescription drug and Medicate Advantage Plan benefits to those in the country illegally, the Times reported Tuesday. The centers say it would save nearly $70 million from 2015 to 1019.

"We are proposing to establish U.S. citizenship and lawful presence as an eligibility requirement for enrollment in [Medicare Advantage] and Part D plans," the proposed rule posted late Monday states.

The Times noted President Obama and congressional Democrats also have agreed not to extend Affordable Care Act benefits to illegal immigrants.

Illegal immigrants are blocked from receiving other federal benefits under the 1996 welfare reform law.

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