Tag Archives: immigrants

Unauthorized Immigrants Paid $100 Billion Into Social Security Over Last Decade

Unauthorized Immigrants Paid $100 Billion Into Social Security Over Last Decade

By Roy Germano

August 4, 2014 | 1:50 pm

“Unauthorized workers are paying an estimated $13 billion a year in social security taxes and only getting around $1 billion back, according to a senior government statistician.

Stephen Goss, the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration (SSA), told VICE News that an estimated 7 million people are currently working in the US illegally. Of those, he estimates that about 3.1 million are using fake or expired social security numbers, yet also paying automatic payroll taxes. Goss believes that these workers pay an annual net contribution of $12 billion to the Social Security Trust Fund.

The SSA estimates that unauthorized workers have paid a whopping $100 billion into the fund over the past decade. Yet as these people are in the US illegally, it is unlikely that they will be able to benefit from their contributions later in life.

In the latest episode of Immigrant America, VICE News documented how most US dairy farms depend on the labor of unauthorized workers, as they simply can’t find enough Americans and don’t have a way of hiring foreign workers legally

Farmers claim that they’re following the law the best they can under the circumstances. Michael, a farm owner who asked for his last name to be withheld, argued that his unauthorized employees don’t get a free ride. He told VICE News that they pay taxes and are hired in accordance with the government’s I-9 requirement.

Unauthorized workers usually demonstrate their employment eligibility with fake IDs and fake social security numbers. Once hired, these “questionably documented” workers, as Michael calls them, end up on the payroll and have taxes automatically taken out of their checks, like any other employee. That money then goes to the federal treasury to fund programs like Social Security and Medicare.

You can read more about the SSA estimates of the unauthorized population’s contributions to the trust fund here.”

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One Country Will Replace America as the ‘Land of Opportunity’ by Doing What the U.S. Refuses To

One Country Will Replace America as the ‘Land of Opportunity’ by Doing What the U.S. Refuses To

“Germany.

Yes, Germany is now considered a blossoming land of opportunity for immigrants. It is the top immigrant destination in Europe and only second to the U.S. in number of immigrants welcomed in 2012.

The country has radically simplified the immigration process for educated E.U. citizens and foreigners and has developed special programs to encourage unemployed Europeans to migrate, with Germany footing the bill.

Jordi Colombi, a 36-year-old Spaniard profiled by the Washington Post, exemplifies this migratory pattern. Colombi’s journey from unemployment in Spain to flourishing architect in Germany is symbolic of a functional immigration system.

Germany, who the Economist calls “a bastion of strength in the fragile euro zone,” is experiencing a surge in jobs and an employment peak for the first time in 2014 since 1990. And it is growing and thriving in part because the country has laid out welcome mats for people wanting the “German dream.” Meanwhile, America’s stale immigration system that is indefinitely locked in limbo could learn a thing or two from Germany’s success.

Image Credit: AP

Germany Immigration Policy 101: In 2013, a record high of 437,000 immigrants flooded onto Germany’s border, Deutsche Bank reported. That influx has aided a shrinking pool of German workers, where the country “has Europe’s oldest population and second-lowest birthrate after Monaco,” according toBloomberg Businessweek.

Specific policies are tempting foreign individuals to seek out Germany’s employment opportunities and transition programs. E.U. nationals can easily migrate between the 28 nations. But Germany went beyond that measure by instituting a “Blue Card” system in 2013 where anyone “with a university degree and a job offer with a minimum salary of $50,000 to $64,000 a year, depending on the field” can immigrate, theWashington Post reported.

Additionally, Germany invested $609 million in a program targeting unemployed European 18- to 35-year-olds. The country pays for almost all of their assimilation including travel, language classes and accommodations during job training (though the program had to stop taking new applicants in April).

Other than occasional xenophobic incidents, the country has seen nothing but positive results of these policies. Deutsche Bank estimated that in recent years, 10% of Germany’s economic growth “can be attributed to an increase in employment of citizens from [Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain] and Eastern European partners.”

Meanwhile in America: On the other side of the spectrum, the U.S. continues to display an aggressive and degrading approach to the immigration issue. Particularly as the country faces what President Barack Obama has declared “an urgent humanitarian situation,” with more than 47,000 unaccompanied children that have been detained crossing the U.S.-Mexico border since October 2013.

This is how Governor Rick Perry (R-Texas) decided to respond to the flood of children fleeing their poverty-ridden and violence-laden countries in Central and South America.

And Perry, holding an automatic weapon to “protect our borders,” isn’t even the half of it. In early July, misinformed protesters — demonstrating against so-called illegals who threaten their jobs and apparently spread diseases — blocked three busloads of the detained children from going to detention centers in Murrieta, Calif.

Image Credit: ABC-10 News

It doesn’t have to be this way. In Bloomberg Businessweek, Harold Silkin outlines how a more nuanced approach to immigration reform could end up being a tremendous boon to the U.S. economy:

Filling America’s workplace needs is a huge challenge. On one end, U.S. agriculture and the food and hospitality industries seem to have an insatiable need for unskilled labor—mostly to do jobs Americans don’t want to do. This should not panic anyone. Unskilled laborers with inadequate (or nonexistent) English-language skills are not infiltrating U.S. factories, taking skilled manufacturing jobs away from American workers. Claims to the contrary are a fiction.

At the other end of the labor market are the thousands of computer, science, engineering, and other high-skill jobs U.S. employers also are having difficulty filling. This is not a new problem. It’s one of the reasons we have the H-1B visa program, which authorizes the annual hiring of up to 85,000 highly skilled (mostly technology) workers per year from overseas. In a country of 310 million, that does not an invasion make.


Final tally:
Germany’s immigration system bodes well for the country’s economy. If Germany were to tutor the U.S., they would likely point to their own policies that embrace foreigners and produce a skilled workforce that propels the economy forward. They would also highlight anti-immigrant fanaticism that consistently paralyzes immigration reform.

In late 2013, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “Germany today is a country that is indeed very open to immigration.” With so much success under their belts, Germany is the best model right now for immigration. The U.S. better start scheduling those tutoring sessions … we have a lot to catch up on.”

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“No state shall…”

Applicable to so many social justice issues..

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June 25, 2014 · 6:55 pm

For Medicare, Immigrants Offer Surplus, Study Finds

By 

Published: May 29, 2013

“Immigrants have contributed billions of dollars more to Medicare in recent years than the program has paid out on their behalf, according to a new study, a pattern that goes against the notion that immigrants are a drain on federal health care spending.

The study, led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, measured immigrants’ contributions to the part of Medicare that pays for hospital care, a trust fund that accounts for nearly half of the federal program’s revenue. It found that immigrants generated surpluses totaling $115 billion from 2002 to 2009. In comparison, the American-born population incurred a deficit of $28 billion over the same period.

The findings shed light on what demographers have long known: Immigrants are crucial in balancing the age structure of American society, providing an infusion of young, working-age adults who support the country’s aging population and help cover the costs of Medicare and Social Security. And with the largest generation in the United States, the baby boomers, now starting to retire, the financial help from immigrants has never been more needed, experts said.

Individual immigrant contributions were roughly the same as those of American citizens, the study found, but immigrants as a group received less than they paid in, largely because they were younger on average than the American-born population and fewer of them were old enough to be eligible for benefits. The median age of Hispanics, whose foreign-born contingent is by far the largest immigrant group, is 27, according to the Brookings Institution. The median age of non-Hispanic whites in the United States is 42.

The study drew on two nationally representative federal surveys, from the Census Bureau and the Department of Health and Human Services. Researchers included the contributions of legal residents who were not citizens, a group that is eligible for Medicare if certain requirements are met; unauthorized immigrants; and citizens who were born abroad.

It was not clear how much of the surplus was made up of earnings by immigrants in the country illegally, who are ineligible for most government programs.

The Census Bureau, whose data was used for the contributions portion of the study, says it attempts to count all immigrants, including those in the country illegally.

The finding “pokes a hole in the widespread assumption that immigrants drain U.S. health care spending dollars,” said Leah Zallman, an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the study.

The study, which was published on the Web site of the journal Health Affairs on Wednesday, comes as Congress considers legislation that would eventually give legal status to the country’s 11 million unauthorized immigrants. The legislation has sparked a vigorous debate about whether immigrants ultimately contribute more than they receive from the federal budget. One of the sticking points has been whether immigrants should be eligible for government programs, including health benefits, before they qualify for citizenship, but while they are on the path to getting it.

The study was concerned only with Medicare, the federal program that accounts for about a fifth of all American health care expenditures. Experts said that the study’s findings served as a useful reminder that immigrants, at least for now, are extending the life of the beleaguered program, not hastening its demise.

“There’s this strong belief that immigrants are takers,” said Leighton Ku, the director of the Center for Health Policy Research at George Washington University. “This shows they are contributing hugely. Without immigrants, the Medicare trust fund would be in trouble sooner.” The belief prevails, for example, among some opponents of immigration reform.

The study did not grapple with the health care costs of immigrants over their full lifetimes, a calculation that economists say is critical to understanding their long-term impact on the federal budget.

“It’s just a snapshot of a point in time,” said Paul Van de Water, a visiting fellow at the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Similar calculations have been made for Social Security. The chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, Stephen C. Goss, estimated that immigrants in the country illegally, some of whom assume fake Social Security numbers to provide cover for employers and themselves, among other reasons, generated a surplus of about $12 billion for the Social Security Trust Fund in 2010.

But that equation would change if unauthorized immigrants were to gain legal status under a new law and eventually began collecting Social Security once they were of retirement age. One major policy question is how much that might cost, experts said.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative institute, estimated that the legislation’s changes, if implemented, could cost taxpayers more than $6 trillion. Critics of that calculation said it did not take into account the economic benefits that would arise from taking millions of people out of the shadow economy.

Mr. Goss, in a letter this month to Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, said that the legislation’s effect on the health of Social Security would be positive in the long term.

Gordon Hanson, a professor of economics at the University of California, San Diego, who has worked on migration issues for 20 years, said there was still no comprehensive nonpartisan analysis of the fiscal consequences of putting illegal immigrants on the books.

Federal coffers tend to benefit from immigrants in the country illegally, he said, with contributions to programs like Social Security and Medicare that those immigrants cannot draw on later. State and local governments, on the other hand, have to absorb more of the costs, like education for their children and emergency room visits.

Immigrants tend to be healthier than American-born citizens, and have lower mortality rates, research has found. Dr. Ku said there was evidence that individual immigrants also use less health care than native-born Americans. He has calculated, for example, that immigrants’ medical costs were 14 percent to 20 percent less than those of native-born Americans, even after controlling for other factors like emergency room visits and insurance coverage, which fewer immigrants have.

The study found that average costs to Medicare for immigrant enrollees in 2009 were $3,923, lower than the average $5,388 expenditure for the American-born. The difference, however, was just shy of statistical significance, because of wide variations in medical expenditures and the small numbers of immigrant enrollees, which made the study’s margin of error wide.

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, who was an author of the institute’s report this month, said that looking at Medicare alone was not very useful, as it was just one slice of the entire entitlement pie. And the large immigrant youth population, which the study spends most of its time on, is familiar, he said.

“It’s a yawner of a study,” he said. “Young people don’t get Medicare. We don’t need several Ph.D.’s to tell us that.”

Others defended the findings, saying that they showed immigrants were helping prop up the country’s retirement funds at the critical point when baby boomers were starting to retire.

“They’ll be paying into the system at the very time it is most strained,” said Patrick Oakford, a researcher on economic and immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal-leaning institute. He estimated that the average undocumented immigrant was 34 and therefore would not retire until 2046.

 

A version of this article appeared in print on May 30, 2013, on page A14 of the New York edition with the headline: For Medicare, Immigrants Offer Surplus, Study Finds.”

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May 30, 2013 · 8:29 pm