Last month, the federal government announced it would begin a crackdown on employers who are utilizing illegal aliens. That coincided with a program known as the Social Security Number Verification Service which has been implemented by the Social Security Service Administration. Under this program an employer can submit up to 10 names and Social Security numbers (per screen) on line for instant verification. An employer can submit up to 250,000 names and numbers for overnight verification. While the internet site for this program has no reference to illegal aliens, its primary purpose is to force employers to stop employing illegal aliens.
That’s a good start but more needs to be done. Illegals come to this country for one of two reasons. They are here either because the quality of life (jobs or welfare) is better than in their country or because they are engaged in criminal activities (drugs, prostitution, terrorism, etc.). The vast majority of illegals enter the United States for job opportunities. By forcing employers to verify employees’ status through a check of social security numbers, we begin to cut off job opportunities to those illegally here. If there are no job opportunities, there is less incentive for illegals to enter the country.
But there are also those who have entered illegally or remained illegally to feast on the country’s generous welfare system. They have imposed a significant burden on our citizen’s limited resources and by doing so have limited the benefits to those legally entitled. The primary areas of impact are 1) welfare payments, 2) healthcare benefits and payments, 3) education costs and benefits, and 4) the justice system, including arrest, trial (with court appointed counsel) and imprisonment.
A report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform indicated that Oregon spend approximately $167.4 million in 2004 on educating illegal aliens and children of illegal aliens. The report simply took the average cost per child and multiplied it by the census estimate of illegals and children of illegals. In all probability the actual cost is higher because most do not speak, read or write the English language, at least initially, upon entering school.
There are no Oregon specific figures for the cost of providing welfare benefits or healthcare benefits because under a twenty year succession of Democrat governors, state government has steadfastly refused to inquire as to a recipient’s status or, even when they are aware of it, to document or keep records regarding it. Likewise, there is no specific information on the costs of the justice system since the largest cities, Portland, Beaverton, Salem and Eugene, steadfastly refuse to ascertain or record the status of those who enter the system. The Oregon prison system, unlike local jails, does keep track of prisoners’ status but that information is not readily available.
No matter how you cut it the problem is substantial. It imposes an additional financial burden on Oregon taxpayers to provide funds for those not entitled because they are in the country illegally. It imposes an additional burden on those who are lawfully entitled to benefits because the moneys appropriated must be divided amongst a class substantially enlarged by the presence of illegals. For schools it means crowded classrooms, for medical services it means stretching the time and attention of the limited number of healthcare professionals.
It is no more difficult for government to verify the status of those who seek its services than it is for employers to verify the status of their employees. Every child born in America already has a social security number. There would be virtually no burden on Oregon’s public schools to require that social security number upon enrollment and thereafter for the schools to verify that number through the Social Security Number Verification Service. Similarly, applicants for welfare benefits can be required to provide a social security number and the process for verification would be available.
I recognize that federal law requires that all persons have access to emergency room services and, as a result, illegals have been encouraged by welfare advocates to use the emergency room services as their primary healthcare facility. But that is a law that can be changed – although I wouldn’t hold my breath that the do-nothing Congresses that we have had over the last ten years can do much of anything beyond increasing their own pay. Still, it is possible that the same Social Security Number Verification Service could be used to limit access to only those legally here.
Yes, all of this could be done to mitigate illegal immigration but, in Oregon, the Democrat House and Senate leaders refused to consider any bills to address the problem and you can expect more of the same so long as they maintain power.