A U.S. federal judge has temporarily blocked President Obama’s immigration program that defers deportation for almost 5 million illegal immigrants. Responding to a lawsuit filed by 26 states, the judge did not rule on the legality of immigration orders, but said there was sufficient merit to warrant a suspension of the new program while the case goes forward.
The suit is over Obama’s executive actions on immigration announced last November. The executive actions would expand a program that protects immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Another major part of the orders would extend deportation protection and provide work-authorized Social Security numbers to illegal immigrants who are parents of children born in this country and who have lived in this country for some years.
TSCL is concerned that illegal immigrants who gain temporary work permits and Social Security numbers would become permanently eligible for Social Security and Medicare among other federal benefits. Here are several areas of concern:
- Expanded tax credits — Social Security numbers would pave the way for applicants to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Additional Child Tax credit. In a recent Senate hearing, Eileen O’Connor, who ran the Justice Department’s Tax Division under George W. Bush, explained that these refundable tax credits, “can create a ‘refund’ of an amount you never paid as income taxes. So you can have a liability before the credit of $400, have paid in nothing, and with a refundable earned income tax credit of $1,000, get a check from Uncle Sam for $600.” She went on to say that immigrants who acquire Social Security numbers would be able to amend three years of previous tax returns to claim the earned income credit. The U.S. Government Accountability Office recently reported that an estimated 24% of all refunds due to the Earned Income Tax Credit are paid improperly.
- Higher long-term costs for Social Security and Medicare: According to the CBO, people approved for work authorization and Social Security numbers, through policies like Obama’s executive action, would be eligible to receive Social Security and Medicare benefits on the basis of their work history. Neither program requires citizenship in order to file a claim. While taxes flowing into the program are estimated to boost the programs in the short term, the CBO noted that periods of unauthorized employment count toward eligibility for Social Security if individuals receive authorization to work. According to the CBO,“The ability or inability of a formerly unauthorized worker to apply those employment periods to future benefits would affect federal outlays for the program. In addition… people who previously paid Social Security taxes under a stolen or fake Social Security number might be able to claim benefits in the future…”
Sources: “Cost, Logistics Of Obama Immigration Plan Raise Concerns Before Launch,” Doug McKelway, Fox News, February 13, 2015. Testimony of Eileen O’Connor, Esq., Before The Senate Committee On Homeland Security And Government Affairs, February 4, 2015. “How Changes In Immigration Policy Might Affect The Federal Budget,” The Congressional Budget Office, January 2015.