As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drive this country into a deeper public health crisis and recession, low income families and people of color are facing the impact of exacerbated economic inequalities- causing lack of access to affordable housing and rent, joblessness, inadequate healthcare, food insecurity, and more. We urge you to ensure in the next COVID-19 legislation critical Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) expansions that would help 2.3 million Asian and Pacific Islander households and lift 1.7 million Asian and Pacific Islander Americans above or closer to the poverty line, including about 500,000 children.
We urge you to prioritize the following economic improvements, as included in the HEROES Act that passed the House in May and the Pandemic TANF Assistance Act (introduced in May by Senators Wyden, Schatz, Brown, and Casey):
1. Improvement of Child Tax Credit (CTC) to make the credit fully refundable to all low-income children
The CTC improvement would benefit 27 million children who now receive no or little credit. Research shows this is probably the single most important policy Congress can take to address child poverty and would lift 1.5 million children of color out of poverty.
2. Expansion of Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provisions for low-wage workers without children
The federal tax code taxes nearly 6 million low-wage workers without children into poverty each year. 44% of this 6 million are Black or Latinx. Expanding the maximum EITC, income limit to qualify, and age range of eligibility would ensure virtually none of these 6 million low-wage workers are taxed into poverty in 2020 amidst a recession. These expansions would also raise after-tax incomes for about 837,500 Asian American working childless households and 39,200 Pacific Islander American working childless households.
3. Creation of a flexible emergency assistance fund for states to provide basic income assistance and emergency aid to families and individuals who face severe hardship
The Pandemic TANF Assistance Act authorizes a $10 billion Coronavirus Emergency Assistance Grant Program. This fund could provide one-time emergency assistance payments for individuals or families to buy essential supplies or pay rent or utilities; monthly cash payments to help individuals or families with no other income meet basic needs; and subsidized employment.
The CARES Act served as a bandaid for the immediate shock of the pandemic, but families and individuals need sustained support for the months ahead. Furthermore, millions who were unemployed prior to the pandemic are not eligible for unemployment benefits, and many may not receive the stimulus payments because they are ineligible or cannot navigate the application process. We need, among other pieces, a flexible fund that will enable states to target help to those who have the lowest incomes and are now facing the most extreme hardship. Furthermore, as many undocumented individuals were not able to access even the socioeconomic provisions in the CARES Act, we reiterate our demands that our undocumented communities not be explicitly excluded from any more COVID-19 relief legislation:
- Direct cash payments to all, regardless of status
- Access to COVID-19 testing and treatment for all, regardless of status
- Extension of work permits for DACA and TPS recipients
- Suspension of ICE activities and release of detained individuals
We have a duty to provide support for families and individuals who have been the most severely impacted by COVID-19. This immensely impactful bill was modeled on the TANF Emergency Fund during the Great Recession for states to provide basic income assistance and emergency aid to individuals facing severe hardship. We strongly advocate for the President and Congress to once again do right by our communities.
Please contact Michelle Liang, Policy & Communication Manager at the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), at email@example.com with any questions.
Policy & Communication Manager
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)