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US citizens can't get stimulus checks if their spouses are immigrants

U.S. citizens married to immigrants who filed a joint income tax return my not receive coronavirus stimulus checks.

HOUSTON — Stimulus checks are hitting many bank accounts, but some citizens might not be getting a check.

“This is one of the major loopholes in the stimulus bill, which basically holds makes possibly for mixed status families to be left out,” said Kate Vickery, executive director for the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative.

RELATED: More than 88 million stimulus payments have already been distributed, IRS says

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We’re talking about the U.S. citizens who file a joint tax return with a spouse that does not have a social security number. That’s because under the rules, payments can only be made to people with social security numbers and can’t be made to people with individual tax identification numbers otherwise known as ITIN. And that prevents these couples from receiving $2,400 of federal aid.

“There is no real reason to leave these families out. These are tax payers regardless or not if they have legal status. People with ITIN's pay federal income tax. Even if they are not a U.S. citizen,” Vickery said.

According to local immigrant activists, this impacts a lot of families in the Houston area.

“Those mixed status families, we have a lot in the greater Houston region about 100,000 U.S. citizens married to non-citizens,” Vickery said.

Some cities and states have decided to set up funds to help these mixed status and immigrant families. Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis is proposing to help all families in need despite their immigrant status. They will be discussing this at the next commissioners court meeting.

Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Some patients also have nausea, body aches, headaches and stomach issues. Losing your sense of taste and/or smell can also be an early warning sign.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk for becoming seriously ill. However, U.S. experts are seeing a significant number of younger people being hospitalized, including some in ICU.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
  • Follow social distancing

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

Get complete coverage of the coronavirus by texting 'FACTS' to 713-526-1111.