Friday, March 25, 2005

Immigrants Can't Bail Out Social Security

Edwin S. Rubenstein:

In fact, Social Security’s cost projections probably overstate the benefit of immigration. Thanks to totalization agreements, foreign workers can now qualify for Social Security after working as few as 6 quarters—a far cry from the 40 quarters demanded of U.S. citizens before vesting.

Foreigners who began working as illegals and later obtain legal status can even use their illegal earnings to qualify for Social Security. Social Security makes no effort to collect payroll taxes due on back income.

Even if immigrants return to Mexico the Social Security check follows them. And because they are relatively low income workers, the “rate of return” on their social security contributions is higher than that of the average native worker. It’s a progressive system, offering better returns to lower incomes.

Bush’s amnesty/ guest worker program will further exacerbate Social Security’s problems. Following the last such amnesty—the 1986 IRCA legislation—immigration surged more than three-fold, to 1.8 million per year. Most of the new immigrants had worked here illegally for years. Many promptly qualified for Social Security—i.e. were burdens, not benefits, to the Social Security system.

There are far more illegals working in the U.S. today than in 1986, yet Social Security has not factored an amnesty into its projections. The rosy scenario lives.

Unfortunately, the rosy scenario is particularly popular with our immigration-loving President.


At 7:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't care even if they could -- it still wouldn't be worth it. Not at any price.

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