This includes the roughly 600,000 unaccompanied minors and persons in family units stopped at the border in FY2021 and released into the country pending a hearing.
Cash welfare to illegal immigrants is not just costly; it also encourages more illegal immigration.
Although it is referred to as a "refundable credit," the new CTC, like the old additional child tax credit (ACTC) it replaces, pays cash to low-income families who do not pay any federal income tax. The new program significantly increases the maximum cash payment from $1,400 per child to $3,600 for children under 6, and to $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17. After 2022, the maximum payment would be $2,000 per child, but advocates hope the much larger payments will be extended.
In an analysis conducted in October, my colleague Karen Zeigler and I estimated that illegal immigrants with U.S.-born children would receive $8.2 billion from the new CTC. However, we had assumed that the new program, like the old ACTC, would require children claimed as dependents to have Social Security numbers (SSNs). But reconciliation (page 1452, line 14) would permanently repeal this requirement.
Illegal immigrants are able to receive benefits on behalf of their U.S.-born children, who are American citizens. In the case of the old ACTC, they simply acquired an individual taxpayer identification number, which is not hard, and then claimed their payment. In practice, only illegal immigrants with U.S.-born children could receive payments under the old system, since as American citizens those U.S.-born children receive SSNs. The permanent elimination of the SSN requirement means that even illegal immigrants whose children are also illegally in the country can receive the new expanded credit.