“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been banished from our military, but the slogan should be recycled, because it is a perfect name for the Obama administration’s immigration policy. The president’s staff could tweak it a bit, maybe call it something like “We Won’t Ask, So You’ll Never Have to Tell.”
The president and his underlings are doing everything possible to make the U.S. a welcoming place for illegals, no matter what it costs us. They are also trying to cover up the problems this policy creates. Trying to explain an embarrassing 11.2% improper payment rate for the unemployment insurance program, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis placed the blame for the waste of our money squarely on states, calling $17.5 billion in errors “unacceptable.”1 In a Labor Department blog post, Solis noted:
The federal government provides funding and support, but states bear the responsibility of operating an efficient and effective benefits program. The federal government must help them do so, and hold them accountable when they don’t.2
By selectively enforcing our immigration laws, the Federal Government is not helping states do anything except spend more of our money. Accountable or not, taxpayers are the ones shelling out over $191 million to help states deal with this newly publicized overpayment crisis. Talk of fraud by illegals was absent from the Labor Department’s press release, perhaps because no one knows just how bad the problem is.
Illegals have been cashing unemployment checks for decades. The problem was reported by the General Accounting Office in the 1970s:
Evidence indicates that illegal aliens are receiving unemployment insurance benefits; however, the extent of such payments is unknown.3
Illegals were still collecting unemployment benefits in the 1980s, when the Department of Labor expressed concern about the impact of fraud on state budgets:
The sizeable amounts of unemployment benefits being improperly paid to illegal aliens represents an unwarranted drain on State trust funds at a time when the issue of Trust Fund solvency is particularly critical. Accordingly, all SESAs need to take action to implement procedures for preventing and detesting [sic] payments of benefits to illegal aliens.4
Not much had changed by 2002. Taxpayers continued to enrich illegals with unemployment checks. The Department of Labor estimated that they received $38.0 million in benefits.5 Now, nearly a decade later, Secretary Solis is blaming states for improper payments while she supports rights for immigrant workers and hints that legal status is irrelevant to their protections.
A 2008 federal report was forced to rely on Department of Labor fraud estimates that were six years old. The most recent numbers available were from 2002.6 The issue is moot now, because federal enforcement policy has changed and the Justice Department rewarded states that cracked down on illegal aliens with lawsuits. Both Alabama and Arizona fell into the Labor Department’s highest improper payment category, with bad payment rates above 14%.7 Both states were sued when they tried to enforce their own laws that included identity verification provisions.
The Labor Department categorizes different types of improper unemployment insurance payments, such as paying benefits to someone who finds a new job. We should be asking how many illegals improperly collect benefits and fall under one of these categories, on top of having committed identity fraud that qualified them to work, and to receive unemployment checks.
A hands-off immigration enforcement policy that prevents state efforts helps ensure that fraud will go undetected, and that taxpayer-funded benefits will continue to be paid to illegals. While taxpayers lose their state tax dollars to improper payments, our president is demanding that we pay more for public employee salaries and schools with his Americans Jobs Act, because state and local governments cannot afford the tab. The president should decide who will benefit him the most, unions or illegals. Otherwise, our tax dollars will be spread too thin to do him any good next year.