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Children's Defense Fund, New York is calling on the NY faith community to sign our Build Back Better letter to the NY Congressional delegation. In the letter we are calling for a final Build Back Better bill which centers the needs of New York’s marginalized children and families by: (1) making the expanded child tax credit (CTC) permanent, fully inclusive of all immigrant children, and fully refundable and (2) includes paid family and medical leave. You will find our letter here and attached to this email. Please sign our letter by COB Thursday, November 11. Also, please share our letter and sign-up link with your email distribution list.


About our CTC ask: Why We Need a Permanent, Fully Inclusive and Fully Refundable CTC

In March 2021, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill to speed up the country's recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession. Included in that bill was a transformational expanded CTC, which expanded the CTC for 2021 to get more help to more families. The credit increased from $2,000 per child in 2020 to $3,600 for each child under age 6. For each child ages 6 to 16, the CTC was increased from $2,000 to $3,000. It also made 17-year-olds eligible for the $3,000 credit. To get money to families sooner, the IRS is sending out half of the 2021 Child Tax Credit this year in monthly payments. To date, the expanded CTC has reached 60 million children nationwide and kept 3.4 million children out of poverty while continuing to reduce food insufficiency among low-income families.


Permanent: CTC was only expanded for one year in the American Rescue Plan. The expanded CTC ends this year in 2021. Our letter calls for Congress to make the expanded CTC permanent. Here in New York, families are using their CTC payments to purchase food, manage bills and pay for clothing and other essentials for children. Now that families have become accustomed to the stability of this monthly income, it would be unconscionable to take it away from them. If made permanent, the expanded child tax credit is estimated to reduce New York’s child poverty rate by over 36 percent, cut child poverty nearly in half nationally and reduce racial disparities in child poverty. Failing to make the expanded CTC permanent threatens to reverse these early gains in reducing child poverty and narrowing racial and economic inequities.


Fully Inclusive: Immigrant communities were one of the first and hardest hit communities by the COVID-19 pandemic, but many immigrant families were excluded from early relief measures. It was only in the latest round of stimulus payments that members of mixed immigration status families were made fully eligible for the support if they have Social Security numbers. Immigrants with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) continue to be denied the support they need. Even when the economy is strong, many immigrants with ITINs are ineligible for most federal supports, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and other public benefits. The Trump Administration furthered their exclusion with the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, which excluded immigrant children who lacked a Social Security number from CTC benefits for the first time. All children who need support should be eligible for a child allowance. Restoring the CTC for the approximately 1 million children who do not have Social Security numbers, but are eligible for ITINs, would provide families with much-needed support, helping immigrant families cover the costs of basic needs such as health care, food, school supplies, and other necessities that support their children’s well-being and healthy development. It would also infuse states with spending and bolster local economies. Child poverty is a moral failure.  America is a nation of immigrants.  New York is a state of immigrants.  The immigrant children of our nation and state are worthy and deserving of access to poverty-fighting supports – including the up to 72,000 New York children without Social Security Numbers who are currently ineligible for the expanded CTC.


Fully Refundable: The newly expanded CTC made the credit available to families with the lowest incomes for the first time. Additionally prior to the American Rescue Plan, lower-income families often received a smaller Child Tax Credit than families with higher earnings because the tax credit was only partially refundable. For so many New York families who live in or near poverty, the expanded CTC has been a lifeline. Experts have projected the American Rescue Plan will lift more than five million children out of poverty this year, cutting child poverty by more than half – and the expanded Child Tax Credit is the single largest contributor to this historic reduction.


The current version of the bill only extends CTC for a year and does not include immigrant children without social security numbers. Sign our letter here, and join us in calling for a permanent, fully inclusive and fully refundable expanded CTC in the final Build Back Better bill. If made permanent, the expanded CTC has the potential to advance racial equity and promote child and family well-being among communities who need it most, including immigrant communities.


About our paid family and medical leave ask: In June 2021, President Biden tweeted: “The United States is the only industrialized country in the world with no national paid family leave policy.  It’s a disgrace.” Illness can strike at any time—and for workers without access to paid leave, they often must choose between recovering their health and keeping their job or between caring for a loved one and securing their next paycheck. Low-wage workers are less likely to have access to different forms of paid leave. Black and Hispanic workers are less likely than white, non-Hispanic workers to have access to paid family and medical leave. As the coronavirus pandemic has made even clearer, workers should have access to comprehensive paid family and medical leave to care for themselves or a loved one without being faced with this impossible choice. While Congress addressed this need amid the pandemic by providing temporary emergency paid sick leave and emergency paid child care leave to some workers, the United States still lacks a permanent and comprehensive paid family and medical leave policy. This makes the United States the only industrialized nation in the world to not guarantee any paid leave for workers. It is time to change the status quo. Workers in California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Washington state, the District of Columbia, and Massachusetts have access to paid family and medical leave through their state or district’s program. Policymakers must act now to ensure that all workers have access to paid family and medical leave.


Sign our letter here, and join us in calling for a national paid family and medical leave policy in the final Build Back Better bill.


Thank you for your consideration.


In solidarity,


Kercena A. Dozier, Esq. (she/her)

Executive Director
Children's Defense Fund-New York
815 2nd Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, New York 10017
o  (212) 697-0186  
e  kdozier@childrensdefense.org

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