On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I am writing to urge you to vote against Senators Orrin Hatch and Marco Rubio’s amendment (1249 to S. 744) and oppose any similar proposal being considered as part of a broader compromise on the immigration bill. The amendment would deprive work-authorized immigrants of their ability under current law to receive credit toward future Social Security benefits for wages earned prior to being granted lawful presence.
Social Security benefits are a bedrock promise workers earn by paying payroll taxes over a lifetime of work. However, the Hatch-Rubio amendment and alternatives to this proposal would undermine this promise by denying lawfully present immigrants the value of the payroll taxes they paid on their earnings. In addition to retirement benefits, the Hatch-Rubio amendment would rob work-authorized immigrants of credit for disability and survivor benefits that families depend on if their breadwinner loses the ability to provide support due to death or disability.
The Social Security Chief Actuary recently estimated that currently undocumented workers are contributing $13 billion annually to the trust funds. These contributions accumulate in the trust funds and comprise an estimated 11 percent of the total value of the trust funds’ assets.
The Chief Actuary projects that enactment of S. 744 will increase net revenue to the Social Security trust funds by about $300 billion over 10 years, will boost the economy by 1.63 percent and will add 3.2 million jobs by year ten. Moreover, in a memorandum to Senator Rubio, the Chief Actuary says, “Overall, we anticipate that the net effect of this bill on the long-range OASDI actuarial balance will be positive.” Given this generation of immigrants’ contribution to Social Security’s finances, the Hatch-Rubio amendment would be particularly punitive to them.
Finally, we are concerned about the unknown administrative burden this amendment will place on the Social Security Administration (SSA), which has been forced to cope with increasing demands without adequate funding levels. In addition, since the SSA lacks the data to verify when workers were authorized or unauthorized, an unfair burden would be placed on immigrants to prove that taxes paid on their wages occurred during lawful presence.
Current law honors Social Security’s promise to work-authorized immigrants who contributed payroll taxes. The Hatch-Rubio amendment breaks this promise and denies legal immigrants their earned benefits. For that reason, we urge you to stand for fairness by voting against the Hatch-Rubio amendment (1249) and oppose efforts to include alternatives to the amendment in the compromise on S. 744.
President and CEO