How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Social Security, bolstered by unauthorized workers

Photo by Bruce Bortin/Flickr (Creative Commons)

It's well known that undocumented immigrants often present false or borrowed identification, including Social Security cards and numbers, in order to find work in the underground economy. But there is a side to this story that is seldom explored: How the Social Security taxes paid by these workers aren't reclaimed as benefits, at least not by those who make the payments. This unused money makes for a substantial amount that helps keep the trust fund afloat.

Perhaps this is why a great piece that appeared in the Washington Post over the weekend keeps making the Twitter re-tweet rounds. In the piece, syndicated columnist Edward Schumacher-Matos shares an interview he did with a top Social Security official as part of a book project, during which he learned that the estimated contributions to the Social Security trust fund from unauthorized workers' wages are much higher than previously thought. He writes:


Raw video captures part of Westlake melee over slain immigrant

Raw video posted on YouTube captures part of a late-night protest (along with the observer/videographer's occasional expletive) at the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart Division station last night, yet another night of protests over the police shooting of a Guatelaman day laborer on Sunday. Last night's protest, which began with a march to the station, ended violently with trash cans set on fire in the city's Westlake district and rocks, bottles and eggs thrown at officers. Non-lethal projectiles were fired into the crowd. At least 22 people were arrested and at least one person injured, a man on a bicycle who fell and struck his head. 89.3 KPCC, the Los Angeles Times and several other news outlets reported on the melee, as did some local blogs.


Quote of the moment: A top DHS official on illegal immigration and the labor market

Photo by Jim Greenhill/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A stretch of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border at Nogales, Arizona, June 2006

"Until we have a legitimate labor market between Mexico and the United States, people will attempt to come here to work."

- Alan Bersin, Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in Tucson last Friday

Yesterday's Arizona Daily Star featured an interview with Bersin, one of the top officials in the Department of Homeland Security. He addressed the unfeasibility of sealing the border and the need for reforms to the nation's immigration system.