Cutting Social Security benefits will not save our nation's budget, but a recent analysis finds immigration reform will help save Social Security.
The National Council on Aging's joint study with the National Hispanic Council on Aging reveals that in addition to affording millions of immigrants the opportunity to participate fully in our democracy, immigration reform has multiple economic benefits for all seniors and individuals with disabilities, including strengthening Social Security.
Currently, undocumented workers contribute about $15 billion a year to Social Security but they don't receive benefits when they reach retirement age due to their undocumented status or, in some cases, migration from the United States.
As legal status is granted to current undocumented workers, contributions to the Social Security program will increase. The Social Security Administration estimates the Senate's bipartisan bill will add more than 6.5 million taxpayers over a decade, generating more than $275 billion in revenue for Social Security and costs would increase by only $33 billion, resulting in a significant net benefit.
According to Edward Alden of the Council on Foreign Relations, immigration reform would also lead to higher wages and allow immigrants to pay more toward Social Security: "You have people who are often working in very low-wage jobs because they're uncertain about their status. They're scared. So these people generally, the analysis shows their wages will go up. They're going to pay more into the Social Security system."
Our current immigration system, in contrast, offers none of these benefits. Millions of undocumented workers are at risk of being deported, ultimately shrinking the nation's labor force and placing a significant strain on Social Security at a time when more and more older Americans find themselves relying on the system for the bulk of their retirement income.
"Comprehensive immigration reform will help millions come out of the shadows. Many of the half-million older adult immigrants have worked for decades and contributed millions to Social Security. They should be able to receive the payments they've earned. Social Security is particularly important to (Hispanic seniors) and instead of denying earned Social Security benefits to new Americans, we should reward their contributions to the United States," says Jason Coates, public policy associate, National Hispanic Council on Aging.
Passing a commonsense immigration reform bill would allow millions of undocumented workers an opportunity to pursue every aspect of the American Dream.