SAN FRANCISCO–As the debate over immigration reform tugs predictably back in
Washington, an undercurrent of ageism and disability bias has been flowing
beneath more obvious racial and class implications.
Take, for instance, the recent USA Today op-ed co-authored by former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., now president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, which warned, “The truly enormous costs come when unauthorized immigrants start collecting retirement benefits.”
DeMint and his colleague continued, “Social Security, Medicare, food stamps and other
entitlement programs already impose huge, unfunded liabilities on taxpayers.”
The op-ed goes on to declare that “an amnesty” proposed for 11 million unauthorized immigrants will add significant taxpayer costs because unauthorized immigrants average only a 10th-grade education.
Doing the Right
Rather than being a burden, however, according to the Social Security Administration’s chief actuary, those presumed drains on the system have been a boon. They add $15 billion a year to Social Security in payroll taxes, only taking out $1billion annually in benefits. In the long term, immigration reform would modestly cut Social Security’s
deficit, not worsen it.
According to Pew Research, that’s partly because of future rising income and home ownership levels for those immigrants’ children.
“Those opposed to immigration reform have attempted to use vital programs, like Social Security, as an economic excuse to avoid doing the right thing,” said Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare