Last year around this
time I wrote about a serious threat to Social Security that was moving
ever-closer--a threat so great that it could truly break the bank of our already
dangerously fragile Social Security system. The threat is the ongoing "totalization"
negotiations between the US and Mexican governments. An agreement on "totalization"
would make hundreds of thousands of Mexican citizens eligible for American
Social Security. Press reports just last month reminded us that these talks are
continuing and will likely be completed this year.
As I wrote last year,
under such a "totalization" agreement, even if a Mexican citizen did
not work in the United States long enough to qualify for Social Security, the
number of years worked in Mexico would be added to bring up the total and thus
make the Mexican worker eligible for cash transfers from the United States. To
qualify for American Social Security, a Mexican citizen would need to work in
the US as short as just 18 months!
nothing new. The first such agreements were made in the late 1970s between the
United States and several foreign governments to help American citizens who were
sent abroad by their companies. From there we have come, nearly 30 years later,
to the point where an estimated 160,000 Mexican citizens would be eligible for
US Social Security in the next five years.
Ultimately, the bill
for Mexicans working legally in the US could reach one billion dollars by 2050,
when the estimated Mexican beneficiaries could reach 300,000. Worse still, an
estimated five million Mexicans working illegally in the United States could be
eligible for the program. According to press reports, a provision in the Social
Security Act allows illegal immigrants to receive Social Security benefits if
the United States and another country have a totalization agreement.
Those in favor of
sending US Social Security benefits to Mexican citizens argue that the crushing
poverty in Mexico demands some form of US assistance to that country's aged.
While the poverty in Mexico is truly deplorable and saddening, the fact remains
that the US Congress has no constitutional authority to enact what is
essentially another foreign aid program. I would applaud any private citizen who
wishes to help his fellow man living in poverty, whether in the US or Mexico or
wherever he wishes. But for the US government to force this kind of
"charity" is both immoral and illegal.
When Congress returns
late this month, it should take the opportunity to re-affirm that Social
Security is an American program designed to benefit American retired workers.
That is why I introduced HR 489, the Social Security for American Citizens Only
Act, in the current Congress. This act forbids the federal government from
providing Social Security benefits to non-citizens. It also ends the practice of