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So Much For Being Moochers: Undocumented Immigrants Have Paid $100 Billion Into Social Security Fund Over Past Decade

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In a new piece from VICE, an official from the Social Security Administration states that undocumented immigrants are paying an estimated $13 billion — yup, that’s with a “b” — in Social Security taxes every year.

So much for immigrants being moochers, right?

Stephen Goss, chief actuary of the SSA, estimates that undocumented immigrants have paid an enormous $100 billion into the fund over the past ten years, “with no intention of ever collecting benefits.”

Goss estimates that without the millions of undocumented immigrants paying into the fund, “Social Security would have entered persistent shortfall of tax revenue to cover payouts starting in 2009,” he told CNN.

A popular myth among anti-immigrant nativists is that immigrants drain the system. But, as CNN states, that’s just not so:

Undocumented immigrants do not qualify for welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, and most other public benefits. Most of these programs require proof of legal immigration status and under the 1996 welfare law, even legal immigrants cannot receive these benefits until they have been in the United States for more than five years.

And when it comes to immigrants who would be eligible for any sort of public assistance, they’re less likely to be signed up than their native-born counterparts anyway:

Non-citizen immigrant adults and children are about 25% less likely to be signed up for Medicaid than their poor native-born equivalents and are also 37% less likely to receive food stamps, according to a 2013 study by the Cato Institute.

An analysis of the Senate’s 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill (passed by the Senate but left to languish by House Republicans) found that legalization of the nation’s undocumented population would have strengthened the solvency of Social Security over the next 36 years.

From VICE:

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.