Social Security, the so-called "third rail" of American politics,
has just become more incendiary. The Bush Administration is proposing
a change that is even more controversial than offering younger workers
the opportunity to invest a small percentage of their Social Security
Everybody knows that Social Security is facing a massive shortfall
in a few years when the baby-boom generation starts to retire. Higher
taxes, reduced benefits, or allowing some measure of privatization are
the alternatives that need to be worked out by bipartisan consensus.
The Bush Administration has just thrown a monkey wrench into a
harmonious solution. A deal is in the works to add to the bulging
Social Security rolls many thousands of Mexicans who are working in the
United States, both legally and illegally.
This idea would be very costly to U.S. taxpayers. It's bad
politics, it undermines the rule of law, and it invites a new wave of
illegals to come across our border in search of taxpayer benefits.
Vicente Fox's success as Mexico's President is threatened by his
country's terrible poverty. So he has a very ambitious plan to deal
with it: export his poverty to the United States.
Fox encourages poor and desperate Mexicans to risk all kinds of
hardships to cross the U.S. border illegally, often paying their life
savings to a criminal "coyote," making a deal to transport illegal
drugs, or enduring life-threatening thirst in the Arizona desert. Fox
even toyed with a plan to give them Survival Kits to ease their pain.
If the illegal aliens manage to elude U.S. border guards and
escape death on the highway in crowded vans or trucks driven by
inexperienced drivers, many manage to land in various locations far
away from Mexico, such as Colorado, Iowa or Georgia. They can then
hope to get hired by a U.S. employer willing to close his eyes to how
they got so far away from home.
Nevertheless, the illegals are told by Fox and other Mexican
officials to "think Mexican" first and send as much as they can scrape
out of their pitiful paychecks back to relatives in Mexico. According
to a Pew Hispanic Center and Inter-American Development Bank report,
Mexicans in the United States will send $13 billion this year to
relatives in Mexico.
As soon as George W. Bush was elected president, Vicente Fox
started pressuring him to legitimize the status of the some ten million
illegal aliens who are in the United States, plus give amnesty to many
illegals by reviving a loophole in immigration law called 245(i).
Those plans were sailing briskly until 9/11, the day that the American
people woke up to the dangers of open borders, and Fox was forced to
move to an incrementalist strategy.
Mexican consulates in the United States started issuing an
identification card, called matricula consular, to Mexicans illegally
living in our country. By definition, this card should prove that the
holder is in the United States illegally, but it began to be accepted
by police, banks and even driver's license offices in some states as
though it were a valid I.D.
New York State and New York City, however, citing security
reasons, just announced that they will not recognize the matricula
consular as a valid identity card.
The deputy White House press secretary has just confirmed that the
Social Security Administration has begun discussions with Mexico about
an agreement to allow Mexicans to receive U.S. Social Security
benefits. One plan is to allow Mexicans, who were not employed in the
U.S. long enough to collect U.S. Social Security benefits, to count the
time they worked in Mexico as part of the mandatory 10 years or 40
The most expensive plan is to provide benefits to the estimated 5
million Mexicans who are working illegally in the United States after
having supplied fake Social Security numbers to their employers. "Our
actuaries are working on the numbers," said Social Security spokesman
Acquiescing in Vicente Fox's demands would put hundreds of
thousands of Mexicans onto the rolls of the U.S. Social Security system
just as the first wave of baby boomers starts getting retirement
checks. Already there is talk of an addition to the U.S. Embassy in
Mexico City to handle 37,000 claims anticipated in the first year.
The Bush Administration claims that these plans would promote
"totalization" of U.S. and Mexican retirement systems and develop a
positive relationship between the two countries. But offering Social
Security benefits to people who knowingly violate U.S. immigration laws
would create a powerful new incentive for more illegals to enter the
If foreigners work legally in the United States and pay Social
Security taxes, they are entitled to receive the benefits they earned.
But U.S. taxpayers should say "no" to Mexico's attempt to shift its
social welfare burdens onto the U.S. taxpayers.