Totalization Agreement With Mexico Remains Pending
The Obama Administration is coming under growing criticism for what is being called an “administrative amnesty.” Critics, including TSCL, say that the Department of Homeland Security is using a policy of non-enforcement to achieve amnesty for the illegal alien population without legislative action from Congress.
In October, the House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security examined the impact that Obama Administration immigration policies are having on border security. At issue is whether a series of memos, issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton, encourages immigration officials to ignore certain categories of illegal immigrants. In addition, the Subcommittee also examined an announcement by the Department of Homeland Security made last August, that it would begin reviewing deportation proceedings and releasing illegal aliens that it does not consider a “priority.”
Concerns are growing that those released will be able to apply for work authorization. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Representative Lamar Smith (TX-21) recently said “This backdoor amnesty to illegal immigrants could allow illegal immigrants to receive work authorization and could put even more U.S. citizens on the unemployment rolls.”
Work authorization for illegal immigrants is a critical issue affecting Social Security because with it, even non-citizens who worked illegally can become entitled and file claims for Social Security (and subsequently Medicare benefits if they still live in this country). Once a claim is filed, the Social Security Administration would use all earnings to determine entitlement, even for jobs worked while illegal.
Entitlement to Social Security benefits based on illegal work is also the issue affecting a Social Security totalization agreement with Mexico. Although current U.S. law forbids the payment of Social Security benefits to illegal immigrants without work authorization, there are exceptions. One important exception applies to immigrants receiving benefits living in a country with which the U.S. has a totalization agreement. It appears possible that under the U.S./Mexico totalization agreement, if it goes into effect, illegal Mexican workers need only to return to Mexico to file a claim in order to qualify for benefits.
TSCL believes that Congress must provide better protection for Social Security, especially when the rolls are growing and the cost of benefits is more than the cash revenues received by the system. TSCL supports legislation that would ban the payment of benefits based on illegal work — H.R. 787, “No Social Security for Illegal Immigrants Act,” introduced by Representative Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46), and S.95, legislation to prevent Social Security credit from being earned without legal status, introduced by Senator David Vitter (LA).
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Sources: “Obama Deportation Numbers A ‘Trick,’” Rep. Lamar Smith, Politico, October 25, 2011.