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The boon in the Social Security earnings suspense file

I was amused by Gabriela Saucedo Mercer’s question to her congressional opponent, Raul Grijalva. Mercer is a Republican — they are modestly amusing most of the time, or to paraphrase Churchill, a modest political party with much to be modest about. Grijalva owns, and has owned, Arizona’s Third Congressional District by virtue of a majority of Democrats. So she will lose despite her loaded, anti-immigrant question posed to Grijalva in the Oct. 5 edition of the Arizona Daily Star:

How do you think unrestricted access to social services, health care, public schools and the job market of the state of Arizona by illegal immigrants is going to help the average Hispanic U.S. citizen?

Grijalva gave a good answer, saying the Senate-passed immigration reform bill would be economically beneficial.

The fact is illegal immigrants have contributed mightily by paying into the Social Security system. If you receive Social Security payments, be grateful to illegal immigrants. They have helped finance your government pension.

When undocumented workers come to this county, they sometimes obtain a Social Security card and number through illegal means. It enables them to get a job and a paycheck. They become the falsely or illegally documented. But they pay taxes withheld by law in their paychecks.

The Social Security Administration keeps an account of irregular Social Security numbers, mismatched names, duplicate numbers and other oddities. These payments are recorded in what is called the earnings suspense file (ESF). Right now there is no one to claim the benefits.

The Senior Citizens League reports that the amount paid into the system by illegal immigrants is $952.4 billion since 1990 with more than nine million social security numbers contributing to the ESF. The last estimate I saw was that the fund grows at the rate of about $6 billion a year.

The Senior Citizens League is scared poop-less that the law may permit immigrants to claim benefits if they somehow acquire amnesty or citizenship, which seems about as likely as Charles Koch becoming a LIBERAL.

Koch is one half of the infamous brothers who finance all manner of right-wing groups, causes, candidates and think tanks.

It will not seem odd that the Cato Institute, a bastion of libertarian thinking, is one of those tanks of thought financed by Koch. What is odd, however, is that Cato has long argued against barriers to immigrants, legal or otherwise, working in the United States. It was on the Cato website that I first heard of the ESF. But it makes sense, A free market, after all, calls for a dynamic workforce uninhibited by national borders or laws. By extension, one should recognize that however conservative Koch appears on other issues, he is a raving rabid liberal on immigration.

 

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