By Stephen J. Dunn
I have represented undocumented aliens (I do not call them “illegal” aliens, as I am unwilling to accept that there is such a thing as an illegal person). All these people want to do is work and support their family. They work hard, contributing to our society, often doing jobs native-born Americans will not do. Many employers pay these workers in cash, “under the table,” to evade employer Social Security and Medicare taxes on their wages. These workers will never receive Social Security or Medicare benefits, as they do not have a Social Security number. They are often taken advantage of in this country, due to their poor English language skills, and the constant threat, explicit or implicit, of being reported to immigration authorities.
These people truly are the least among us. Christ said what you do unto the least of my people you do unto me. The philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas observed that a worker should be paid enough to provide for his family, and to put something aside for his retirement.
We have an estimated 12 million undocumented aliens in the United States. Unless they commit a crime here, we are not going to uproot them and deport them. We are more compassionate than that. We do not have the legal wherewithal to prosecute deportation proceedings against 12 million people.
As undocumenteds are here, and they are going to remain here, we need to find a way to mainstream them. They need a drivers license, so that they can obtain car insurance, and lawfully drive a car. They need a Social Security number, so that their wages can be reported to the Internal Revenue Service, and to enable them to participate in Social Security and Medicare.
Recently I heard Senator Marco Rubio (R. Fla.) talk about his plan for undocumented aliens. He would not put them on a path to citizenship. They would be permitted to work in this country, but they would not participate in Social Security. Not participate in Social Security? How are these people supposed to provide for themselves in their retirement? Will they become public charges in their retirement?
Senator Rubio’s plan would legitimize the exploitation of alien workers. It would also require monumental changes in the employment tax system. We would continue to have traditional employees, on whose wages employers must withhold Social Security tax and Medicare tax, and remit it to the Internal Revenue Service, with employer matching Social Security tax and Medicare tax. We would also have Senator Rubio’s new, underclass of employees, on whom no Social Security tax or Medicare tax will be withheld. The Internal Revenue Service will have to design and implement a new set of employment tax forms to accommodate Senator Rubio’s new underclass of immigrant employees.
Senator Rubio of all people should be informed of issues concerning immigration reform. He styles himself a leader on the subject. His parents immigrated from Cuba. He married into an immigrant family. His proposal for an underclass of immigrant workers, who would not participate in Social Security, is disappointingly lacking.