Illegal immigration is a hot button issue in the United States, with many Americans concerned about the influx of illegal immigrants and about providing amnesty or methods for becoming legal citizens. Indeed December 2007 NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll showed that a majority of Americans felt that immigration hurts the United States more than it helps it.
There is, however, a simple way to stem a large portion of illegal immigration into this country. With some assistance from the IRS and Social Security, the US Government could put a dent in the immigration problem. Here’s how.
PROVIDE STIFFER PENALTIES FOR ALL COMPANIES HIRING IMMIGRANTS WITHOUT PROPER DOCUMENTATION
Companies that hire illegal immigrants and pay them under the table, or do not keep and maintain proper records on immigrants they’ve knowlingly hired should face stiff fines that escalate based on the number of offenses. While there are instances where companies have paid huge fines, as indicated in a Decemeber 2006 story on NPR about a fence company that paid $5 million for offenses, quite often, as mentioned in the same story, companies face no fines for hiring illegals.
If companies feel the risk of hiring an illegal immigrant is greater than the reward, the practice will soon stop.
VERIFY ALL IMMIGRANT DOCUMENTATION USING THE IRS AND SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
I used to work an investigative job where we researched people who appeared to be using false means to obtain benefits. In one instance, the same Social Security Number was tied to 13 different names. We often found that people who appeared to be using the same Social Security Number as other individuals had provided their employer with documentation and a Social Security Card that looked authentic. These people were hired and paid taxes using someone else’s Social Security Number. In this day and age of identity fraud, you would think this would raise a red flag with the government. That is not the case. These simply go into what is called an “earnings suspense file” for the Social Security Administration according to a 2005 New York Times Article.
The solution is to start requiring all employers verify the Social Security Number given for employment prior to employment. Any person whose Social Security Number comes back NOT matching the government’s records, or showing suspicious activity would not be allowed to work until the issue is cleared up with the Social Security Office. Indeed, as the previously mentioned New York Times article indicates, many immigrants will simply quit if asked to prove their identities.
Again, any company who is lax on complying with these requirements should face the same stiff penalties as indicated above.
OR, MAYBE WE SHOULD JUST ACCEPT IT
An interesting point in the New York Times article is that illegal immigrants are paying taxes and are paying Social Security. In fact, their payment into Social Security is helping keep the program solvent for far longer than it would be without them, since these people are paying in and won’t ever be receiving the benefits. Additionally, these workers are often taking low paying jobs for which there simply aren’t enough legal workers to fill the slots. Filling these slots without these workers will require higher wages, which in turn can lead to higher costs across the board, something that is definitely a problem in the current economy.