Now that the $4.2 billion in Additional Child Tax Credits doled out to illegal immigrants is no longer a secret, why are we surprised, and why is the story even newsworthy? Is there anyone out there so naïve as to think that this is unusual, or that $4.2 billion is all we pay out in undeserved benefits to illegals?
Incredibly, the government does not seem to know who qualifies for the tax credit. The Treasury Inspector General suggested that the Treasury Department and the IRS put their heads together to figure out whether illegal immigrants are eligible:
TIGTA recommended that the IRS work with the Department of the Treasury to seek clarification on whether or not refundable tax credits may be paid to individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States.1
The Treasury audit report noted that the credit was another reason to enter the U.S. illegally:
The payment of Federal funds through this tax benefit appears to provide an additional incentive for aliens to enter, reside, and work in the United States without authorization, which contradicts Federal law and policy to remove such incentives.2
Despite federal policies that encourage illegal immigration, like the Obama administration’s new backdoor amnesty scheme, we should at least try to determine whether illegals qualify for this, or any other taxpayer-funded benefit before we pass out the checks.
An immigrant needs a Social Security number to work in the U.S., so anything that incentivizes illegal immigration contributes to fraud. This opens a nasty can of worms for the White House, and for officials backing the president’s criminals-only enforcement policy. Sooner or later officials will have to address how this approach applies to illegals who commit fraud.
Benefit fraud, identify theft, and employment fraud by illegal immigrants are old issues that watchdog agencies have warned lawmakers about for years. A 2002 report admitted that INS officials considered the problem to be “rampant.”3 Another report characterized the magnitude of document fraud and identify theft:
According to Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officials, the use of fraudulent documents by aliens is extensive. At ports of entry, INS inspectors have intercepted tens of thousands of fraudulent documents in each of the last few years….
Also, INS has reported that large-scale counterfeiting has made fraudulent employment eligibility documents (e.g., Social Security cards) widely available.4
These are problems the Federal Government will continue to be unable to control as enforcement fails to keep pace with the illegal population, or is curtailed altogether in favor of amnesty. The important question is how the Obama administration plans to deal with illegal immigrants who have committed fraud and related offenses, when a very sizable portion of this population may be involved. Lawmakers advocating an immigration bill talk about a rigid process, and about getting right with the law. Do they also support delving into the identity and employment verification information, and Social Security numbers for the nearly 8 million illegals estimated to be working in the U.S.? Will the guilty be deported, or will we develop a new class of pardonable offenses, justified on the grounds that illegals are entitled to a better life because they demand it?
We have immigration laws to protect our citizens and their tax dollars, but our leaders have opted for a new enforcement policy with no thought for those who are harmed by illegals engaging in fraud. This is a policy contradiction with no solution that has tremendous implications for Barack Obama. The president has narrowed the focus of immigration enforcement to known criminals while allowing the remaining illegals to wait for an amnesty bill. Vast numbers have likely committed identity theft or document fraud, and these individuals will be overlooked because a hands-off enforcement approach will never bring them under the spotlight. If we ever find ourselves in the sorry position of seriously considering legalization, the fraud problem will be ignored because the revelation of how many illegals are guilty, and eligible for deportation, will be a political embarrassment too enormous to bear.
Updated March 29, 2016 to revise title.