GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As Congress gets closer to sending out a third round of stimulus checks from the federal government, undocumented immigrants are calling out lawmakers for being left out.
A small group of people gathered in Grand Rapids Friday afternoon, protesting the eight Democratic U.S. senators who voted in favor of a budget amendment prohibiting undocumented immigrants from receiving federal stimulus benefits.
The amendment, which was introduced by two Republican lawmakers, passed the Senate 58-42 on Feb. 4. Two of the Democrats who broke away from the bulk of their party were Michigan’s senators, Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow.
Specifically calling out Peters by name, the protesters gathered outside his Grand Rapids office in the Gerald R. Ford Federal Building.
The protest was organized by West Michigan chapters of Movimiento Cosecha, a national movement advocating for immigrants’ rights. Gemma Lowe of the Grand Rapids group said the undocumented community feels betrayed by all the Democratic lawmakers who crossed party lines in voting to prevent them from receiving stimulus money.
“It feels like a stabbing in the back… like they are not with us,” Lowe said.
People who are undocumented were also excluded from previous stimulus payments. Protesters said they should be eligible to receive them.
“We also pay taxes,” Lowe said. “We have something called ITEN (individual taxpayer identification number) and every time we earn money, we pay taxes, so we know we deserve the dignity to also receive stimulus checks.”
Spokespeople on behalf of Peters and Stabenow responded to News 8’s request for comment Friday, giving nearly identical statements in which they said their votes supported current law. They also noted that children who are U.S. citizens even if their parents are not can get payments.