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Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., speaks during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee to examine the posture of United States Northern Command and United States Southern Command, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, March 24, 2022. (AP) Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., speaks during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee to examine the posture of United States Northern Command and United States Southern Command, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, March 24, 2022. (AP)

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., speaks during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee to examine the posture of United States Northern Command and United States Southern Command, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, March 24, 2022. (AP)

Maria Ramirez Uribe
By Maria Ramirez Uribe May 2, 2022

Mark Kelly’s votes did not give benefits to immigrants in the country illegally

If Your Time is short

  • The National Republican Senatorial Committee said its claim referenced two of Kelly’s votes on pandemic stimulus checks.

  • But Kelly’s votes on these measures did not have the effect of granting stimulus checks to immigrants who were illegally in the country.

  • According to the IRS, to be eligible for any of these checks, people must have filed their taxes using a Social Security number, which immigrants illegally in the country generally do not have.

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz. is back on the ballot this year after winning a special election in December 2020. An ad by a national Republican group is challenging his reelection and attacking his voting record on benefits for immigrants illegally in the country. 

The National Republican Senatorial Committee’s ad begins with the narrator saying Kelly "votes the party line in Washington and says the opposite when he’s home in Arizona." The ad goes on to make a number of claims, including that Kelly voted "for benefits to illegals."

We asked the NRSC for evidence and it pointed us to two votes related to the stimulus checks provided during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We found the NRSC claim is not accurate since none of Kelly’s votes on the issue made it possible for immigrants who were in the country illegally to become eligible for the stimulus checks.

NRSC's ad "Against Arizona" 

Who was eligible for the Economic Impact Payments?

Over the course of the pandemic, Congress has approved three rounds of stimulus checks. Each of these has had slightly different eligibility criteria. Immigrants in the country illegally largely have not been eligible for any of the payments.

According to the IRS, to be eligible for any of these checks, people must have filed their taxes using a Social Security number, which immigrants illegally in the country generally do not have

The IRS issues Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers to people who aren’t eligible to have a Social Security number so they can pay income taxes. This can include immigrants in the country legally or illegally. 

What is Kelly’s voting record on the issue?

In February 2021, Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., introduced an amendment "to establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund" that he said would "ensure that any new round of economic impact payments does not go to those in this country illegally."

Kelly voted in favor of the amendment, breaking away from most Democrats who voted against it.

A deficit-neutral reserve fund is often used by legislators to "express support for a cause and there is often no follow-up legislation," Steven S. Smith, a political science professor at Washington University, told PolitiFact via email. "They are inconsequential in the vast mast of cases."

A day after this vote, Kelly voted to strike the text of three provisions from the proposed federal budget, including the deficit-neutral reserve fund that he had previously supported, the NRSC said.

Kelly’s vote, however, didn’t change the qualifications for the stimulus checks.

Because the vote was in reference to a deficit-neutral reserve fund, its inclusion in the federal budget would not have had any impact on the eligibility qualifications laid out for stimulus checks under the American Rescue Plan, which already didn’t include immigrants in the country illegally.

The second vote cited by the NRSC was on an amendment to the American Rescue Plan presented by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. The amendment sought to "ensure that the 2021 Recovery Rebates are not provided to illegal immigrants."

Kelly voted "No" on that amendment, and the amendment was defeated. 

NRSC spokesperson T.W. Arrighi issued a statement on Kelly’s vote, saying: "Senator Kelly voted with Republicans a few weeks ago against a provision to allow stimulus checks for illegal immigrants. Today, he flip-flopped and stood with Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats to send Americans’ taxpayer dollars to illegal immigrants."

However, the amendment was largely symbolic, since the American Rescue Plan, as proposed by Democrats, already prevented immigrants in the country illegally from being eligible for the checks. The American Rescue Plan, like previous legislations, required that people have Social Security numbers in order to get a check.

It’s also worth noting that immigrants illegally in the country are generally ineligible for most federal benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Our ruling

A video ad from the NRSC claimed Kelly voted "for benefits to illegals," citing two votes related to the stimulus checks sent out during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, immigrants in the country illegally, for the most part, have not been eligible for any of the three versions of stimulus checks sent out during the pandemic since a Social Security number is required for eligibility.

Neither of the two votes cited by the NRSC changed these eligibility requirements.

The statement is not accurate. We rate it False.

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Mark Kelly’s votes did not give benefits to immigrants in the country illegally

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