Undocumented workers in the United States are contributing as much as $7 billion
a year into the Social Security system but are not entitled to benefits, the
New York Times reports.
Estimates show that about seven million undocumented workers are contributing
to the system, accounting for about 10 percent of last year's Social Security surplus,
the difference between benefits paid and payroll taxes collected, according
to the newspaper.
While the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) bars employers
from hiring individuals who are not legally entitled to work in the United States,
the legislation has done little in curbing the hiring of undocumented workers,
according to the newspaper. Many undocumented workers have purchased a fake
green card and Social Security card, allowing them to secure jobs and be put
on their employer's payroll.
Social Security officials tell the newspaper that they suspect that a significant
portion of the W-2s filed with incorrect Social Security numbers--9 million
in 2002--are from undocumented workers with fake IDs.
"Our assumption is that about three-quarters of other-than-legal immigrants
pay payroll taxes," says Stephen C. Goss, Social Security's chief actuary.
When Social Security officials receive a mismatched W-2, they put it in an
"earnings suspense file" until the government finds to whom it belongs.
Each year, the Social Security Administration sends about 13,000 letters to
employers with high numbers of mismatched W-2s.
The unintended consequence of the letters is that many undocumented workers
lose their jobs or leave because they fear immigration officials are cracking
down on the hiring of undocumented workers, the newspaper reports.