“Path To Citizenship” Immigration Legislation Introduced

“Path To Citizenship” Immigration Legislation Introduced

Calling it an “economic imperative,” President Obama continues to call for comprehensive immigration reform that would provide a path to legal status for illegal immigrants.  A day after the President outlined his plan in a speech on the border with Mexico, immigration reform legislation known as the “DREAM Act” was reintroduced in the Senate.

The bill would provide legal status and a path to citizenship to young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children.  Under the bill, generally, children brought to the U.S. before age 16, have been in the country continually for at least five years and who complete two years of college or military service in good standing would qualify.

Although the bill applies to children, TSCL is concerned that the DREAM Act is a back-door approach to a much wider amnesty that would have an enormous impact on the financial solvency of Social Security and Medicare.  Under current policy, immigrants who become U. S. citizens, as young people under the DREAM Act would, may file a petition for green cards to allow their immediate relatives to legally immigrate to the U.S.  Relatives who qualify immediately for a visa are spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents.  Once the parents receive the green cards they can legally apply for work authorization, and renew it annually.

TSCL thus believes that the DREAM Act may ultimately lead to a tsunami of new Social Security disability and retirement claims, as well as swelling the Medicare rolls.  The 2004 Social Security Protection Act requires that noncitizens assigned Social Security numbers after January 1, 2004, must have work authorization in order to file a claim for benefits.  Once work authorization documents are provided, however, the Social Security Administration would then determine entitlement for benefits on all earnings, even including jobs performed while illegal.  If the green card holder proves evidence of the jobs worked, like W2s, even under invalid Social Security numbers the earnings would be applied to their new Social Security number.

TSCL believes this would make no sense.  It would rewards people for breaking our workplace laws at the same time Congress is considering major changes that would reduce benefits of those who paid into the system legally. TSCL supports legislation that would ban earnings made while in the U.S. illegally, from being counted toward entitlement to Social Security, including H.R. 787 the “No Social Security for Illegal Immigrants Act,” introduced by Representative Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46), and S. 95 introduced by Senator David Vitter (LA).

Sources:  Remarks by the President on Comprehensive Immigration Reform in El Paso, Texas, May 10, 2011. “Senate Democrats Reintroduce Dream Act,” Jennifer Steinhauer, The New York Times, May 11, 2011.  “Green Card for a Family Member of a U.S. Citizen,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as of May 11, 2011.