undocumented immigrants finance new wave of retirees

In recent decades, undocumented immigrants have contributed billions of dollars to the United States Social Security fund, helping to cover part of the deficit affecting the US public pension system.

With their contributions, immigrants have been contributing to the retirement funds of the so-called “baby boomers,” the generation of children born after World War II when the US experienced a population increase.

The undocumented’s contribution is significant when Americans face the difficult choice of cutting pensions, extending the retirement age, or raising taxes to maintain the solvency of what has been the centerpiece of their social welfare for years 30.

According to calculations by the Social Security Administration (SSA), in 2007 alone, undocumented workers contributed nearly $ 12 billion to the program’s cash flow.

Since they cannot collect those benefits due to their immigration status, contributions from the undocumented have become a positive net effect on the quality of the US Aging, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. .UU.

“We estimate that about 5.6 million unauthorized immigrants are working and paying Social Security taxes,” Stephen C. Goss, an actuary for the SSA administration, wrote in June 2007.

In a letter to Democratic Senator Richard J. Durbin, Goss indicated that “the income of unauthorized immigrants results in a positive net effect on the overall financial health of Social Security and that this effect contributed about $ 12 billion to the program cash flow in 2007 “.

Fake papers

Experts point out that it is impossible to determine the exact number of illegal immigrants who work and pay taxes.

Mark Lassiter, the spokesman for the SSA, told BBC Mundo that the only identity information received on the W-2 form from the National Tax Service (IRS) – where the employees’ income is reported – is the name and number of the employee. Worker’s social security.

“Therefore, there is no way to know if the specific income on an IRS W-2 form is from an undocumented immigrant,” Lassiter added.

However, immigration specialists assure that since the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which established penalties for employers who knowingly hire undocumented people, the majority of the “undocumented” live in the United States. They work with false documents.

For the undocumented, the fake identity and social security cards that they fetch for hundreds of dollars on the black market protect them against the employer who must verify their immigration status. But they also mean that when their wages are paid, employers must deduct payroll taxes.

High contribution

“6.7% of the fund (of the SSA) is money contributed by the undocumented,” Edward Schumacher Matos, director of the Harvard University Immigration Research Program, told BBC Mundo.

“That must mean that the undocumented contribute a lot to the country and that they deserve to stay,” added the expert.

Based on calculations made in 2007 by the actuary of the SSA administration, Schumacher Matos concluded that for that year, Social Security had already accumulated between the US $ 120,000 million and the US $ 240,000 million of unauthorized immigrants in the last decades.

The Harvard researcher, who is currently writing a book on the economics of immigration, explained that his calculations were confirmed by Goss himself through an exchange of electronic messages.

Although he confirmed that the undocumented contribute billions of dollars to the American pension fund, Steve Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS, for its acronym in English), considered that the figures offered by Schumacher Matos are very high.

Camarota told BBC Mundo that in a study he carried out in 2002, he concluded that the contribution of the “undocumented” amounted to the US $ 6,400 million.

“I would say that maybe between the US $ 60,000 and the US $ 80,000 (accumulated) during the last 20 years sounds more in line with my research,” added the expert.

“Undocumented immigrants are a net benefit to social security only if they remain undocumented. Their legalization would make them eligible for social security,” the CIS researcher warned.

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