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Just One Brief Example of American Cruelty

A bipartisan majority in the Senate came together to send the "message" to undocumented people that they're not welcome here.

tom cotton
Sen. Tom Cotton.
Michael Vadon/Flickr

This little paragraph is buried in the Washington Post’s Friday morning roundup of the many amendments tacked onto the Senate’s bill allowing Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief package to move forward:

Young offered an amendment he said was aimed at ensuring that undocumented immigrants do not receive stimulus checks. It passed 58 to 42, with eight Democrats voting in favor.

It’s true: Indiana Republican Sen. Todd Young and Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton introduced an amendment to prevent the plan from, in Cotton’s words, “courting foreigners with U.S. taxpayer funds.” And the amendment passed with relatively flying colors, as all Republicans and eight Democrats—Colorado’s John Hickenlooper, New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan, Arizona’s Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, Montana’s Jon Tester, and Michigan’s Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow—joined to push it through.

As Washington Post congressional correspondent Erica Werner noted, the amendment is just some non-binding “messaging.” And as the Denver Post noted, “under current law, people in the country illegally are already prohibited from receiving stimulus checks.”

So the United States Senate came together to pass an amendment whose only point is to send the “message” to undocumented immigrants that, despite overwhelmingly being employed in “essential” jobs during a pandemic, they are a blight on the country and are unworthy of federal assistance. Which is a message that undocumented people are sent all the time, and have already been sent repeatedly thanks to current laws, but why not send it one more time?

And eight Democrats signed on to support this message.

Sometimes the cruelty and sickness of this country presents itself in the starkest terms.