Fact check: New COVID-19 relief grants checks to legal members of mixed-immigration families, not to illegal immigrants

In the days after Congress approved an $892 billion coronavirus aid package, posts on social media claimed that the spending bill granted $1,800 each to “the United States illegal alien,” $4.3 billion to “the State of Israel” and $600 each to “the United States taxpayer.” This claim is partly false. While the bill does expand direct payments to households with mixed immigration status, only those with Social Security Numbers can receive aid. Meanwhile, the money appropriated for Israel is part of the larger omnibus spending bill for the 2021 fiscal year rather than the COVID-19 pandemic relief package.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

Examples of posts making this claim can be found  here  ,  here  and  here  .

On Dec. 21, 2020, Congress passed a long-anticipated coronavirus relief bill as well as a government funding plan in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, visible  here  . As explained  here  in a press release from the House Committee on Appropriations, $1.4 trillion goes to the 2021 appropriations omnibus while nearly $900 billion goes to emergency coronavirus relief.

As reported  here  by Reuters, the bill includes $166 billion in new direct payments of up to $600 per adult and child, $600 for individuals making up to $75,000 a year, and $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000 a year.


The bill also expands direct payments to mixed-status households, such as families with one U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent and one undocumented immigrant parent who filed a joint tax return (  here  ,  here  ). In addition, the act has retroactively made them eligible for the $1,200 per household and $500 per-child checks the CARES Act had not granted them in the spring. 

However, only the spouse with a Social Security Number would receive a stimulus check (here). A mixed-status couple with no children, for example, would receive $600 from this round of payments, plus $1,200 from the CARES Act, totaling $1,800.

By contrast, a couple consisting of two U.S. citizens without children would receive $600 each, or $1,200 total, in this round of payments, having received $1,200 each, or $2,400 in the spring. From the two rounds combined, this couple would receive $3,600.

Households without at least one family member with a Social Security number are not eligible for stimulus checks. For example, an undocumented immigrant who is single or lives with an undocumented spouse and children will not receive any aid from this round of payments or from the CARES Act (here).

U.S. citizen children with undocumented immigrant parents are also ineligible (here). 

Local news also fact-checked these social media claims,  here   and  here  .


In the days after Congress passed the coronavirus relief and the omnibus spending bills, social media users pointed out the discrepancy between the spending package’s $600 new direct payments to families and its $500 million for missile defense systems for Israel. Journalist and author Sarah Kendzior, for example, tweeted, “$600 for Americans who are getting evicted, waiting in food bank lines, and struggling to survive. $500 *million* for Israel” (here).

Indeed, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 stipulates on page 341 (here) that “$500,000,000 shall be for the Israeli Cooperative Programs” for missile defense use.

In addition, the omnibus bill appropriates $3.3 billion in grants to Israel under the Foreign Military Financing program, $500 million in missile defense aid, and $5 million for refugees resettling in Israel (here).

As explained in a Dec. 24 fact check from Newsweek (here), “$900 billion coronavirus relief package and the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill are two separate packages that fall under the year-end funding package for fiscal year 2021.” Accordingly, “None of the money for foreign aid is being allocated from the $900 billion coronavirus relief package.”

In contrast, the U.S. Department of State has allocated all of Europe and Eurasia $170 million in foreign military financing for fiscal year 2021, according to a State Department report (here).

Provided by the Congressional Research Service, a November 2020 report on U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel (here) notes that Israel “is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II.” The report states that the United States has provided Israel $146 billion to date “in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding.”


Partly false. The new COVID-19 aid package provides less in direct payments to families of mixed-immigration status than comparable families without mixed status. Now retroactively eligible for direct payments provided by the CARES Act in the spring, mixed-status families will receive two rounds of payments at once.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts  here  .