Illegal Alien Costs Considered
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Former Republican and current Governor of Florida Charlie Crist has joined the ranks of the extreme innumerate by claiming a massive amnesty would be a fine strategy to rescue Social Security (which has been the government’s extra piggy bank for decades).

Common sense alone would reveal that adding millions of uneducated foreigners to the legal workforce would be a loser deal for federal coffers. They are poor people and therefore make little money.

But in politics, common sense is a rarity.

Crist: Immigration reform can help Social Security, AP, May 13, 2010

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who’s running for Senate as an independent, said Friday that providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants will help keep Social Security solvent – an idea he favors over his opponent’s suggestion to raise the eligibility age for benefits.

Crist told The Associated Press there are as many as 14 million illegal immigrants in the country as part of an underground economy. If they paid into the Social Security system, it would help increase the worker-to-retiree ratio.

Fortunately, Rep. Lamar Smith has been following the costs of illegal immigration for years and recently wrote up an analysis for Investors’ Business Daily:

Contrary To Amnesty Supporters, Illegal Aliens Drain Social Security, IBD, May 12, 2010

A recent Rasmussen Reports survey revealed that voters remain concerned about Social Security and whether the system can deliver what the government has promised.   According to the survey, 58% of U.S. voters lack confidence that the Social Security system will pay them their future benefits.

Advocates for amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants like to claim that amnesty will ”save” Social Security. They also claim that dramatically increased immigration levels will safeguard our retirements and those of our children because more people will pay into the system.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true.

During the last Congress, I asked the Social Security Administration (SSA) to calculate the value in today’s dollars of the payroll taxes paid by typical illegal immigrants and their employers as well as the value of their retirement benefits should they receive amnesty.  Not only the typical illegal immigrant but any low-skilled immigrant will affect the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund.

Illegal immigrant workers, often with false identities, can’t avoid paying into Social Security but are not eligible to receive retirement benefits for their illegal work. But if they receive amnesty, they can qualify for Social Security retirement benefits based on their earlier illegal work.  And those benefits will amount to much more than what they paid into Social Security!

A single male illegal immigrant who works for very low wages and is now 25 years old will receive (at today’s value) $15,596  more in Social Security retirement benefits. A similar female illegal immigrant will receive $20,936 more in retirement benefits.

A married illegal immigrant couple in which one spouse works can expect $52,460 more. And a married illegal immigrant couple where both spouses work will receive $39,037 more.

What would be the fiscal impact on the Trust Fund of the legalization of 5 million illegal immigrant couples who both work for very low wages? A staggering $500 billion!  That would jeopardize the solvency of Social Security and threaten everyone’s retirement.

Of course, Social Security is not the only way in which illegal immigrants negatively impact American taxpayers.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform has estimated that the total cost of K-12 education for illegal immigrant minors and the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants is nearly $29 billion a year.

And there are health care costs.  If illegal immigrants are covered in the health care bill (there is not a strong verification mechanism to ensure they won’t get benefits), it will increase the bill’s costs by as much as $30 billion.

Then there are the human costs. Nearly 16 million Americans are out of work, and about 8 million jobs are held by illegal immigrants. By simply enforcing current immigration laws, we could create millions of job opportunities for American citizens and for legal immigrants who played by the rules and entered the U.S. the right way.

Instead, the Obama administration has all but abandoned work-site enforcement efforts. Administrative arrests are down 87%; criminal arrests of employees are down 83%; criminal arrests of employers are down 73%; the number of criminal indictments is down 86%; and the number of criminal convictions is down 83% since 2008.

If the federal government wants to regain the confidence of the American people, the Obama administration should put the interests of citizens and legal immigrants ahead of illegal immigrants.

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