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Immigration reform groups decry Marco Rubio's tax fraud bill

Some Hispanic advocacy groups who'd like to see immigration reform are unhappy with a tax fraud bill sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who they say is making it harder for poor immigrants who apply for a child tax credit with a taxpayer identification number instead of a social security number.

The National Conference of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization, held a conference call Thursday to decry the bill. They say Rubio's bill does nothing to actually combat tax fraud, and that it flies in the face of the work he's trying to do to help young people with his version of the DREAM Act. That bill -- as yet unfiled -- would allow young people who came to this country through no fault of their own to stay here if they meet certain conditions, including going to college.

"Is Sen. Rubio playing politics? I can't really answer that," said Leticia Miranda, senior policy advisor for economic security policy at La Raza. "But I don't think it's a good political strategy to attract Hispanic voters by creating proposals that would deny 4 million Latino children for using the child tax credit."

Rubio told the Miami Herald Tuesday that his tax fraud bill is "the logical thing to do" and is based on concerns that some taxpayers filing for the credit are claiming children who don't live in the United States. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., has a similar bill.

"All this does is say if you don’t have a Social Security Number, and you did file for the tax credit, you have to file paperwork proving that those children who are receiving the tax credit are here in the United States," Rubio said. "It’s basically illegal to do it now. All this does is require documentation.”

Under Rubio's bill, taxpayers do not have to prove a child's residency with school or day care records, or proof from a doctor's office. Instead, taxpayers claiming the child credit must turn over immigration documents -- potentially putting the IRS in the immigration enforcement business, its critics say.

The bill's purpose is listed as "to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to require certain nonresident aliens to provide valid immigration documents to claim the refundable portion of the child tax credit." They must submit each page of the taxpayer's passport, the taxpayer's nonimmigrant visa, the taxpayer's employment authorization documentation and the taxpayer's arrival-departure documentation. They must also submit each page of the child's passport, the child's nonimmigrant visa, and the arrival-departure documentation of the child.

But there's "no evidence of widespread fraud" among those filing for child tax credits with taxpayer identification numbers, said Wendy Cervantes, Vice President of immigration and child rights policy at First Focus.

An estimated 4.5 million children of immigrant families benefit from the tax credit, she said, calling it an "effective, anti-poverty tax measure."

"To deny the child tax credit to any child is bad policy and runs contrary to our american values," We should be focusing on policies that invest in children and support families, not policies such as those currently proposed in the Senate, and that make families harder and threaten to drive child poverty even higher."