Linda Chavez

Those illegal workers who apply for jobs from companies that participate in E-Verify are smart enough to buy real Social Security numbers, which won't automatically bounce out of the system. Of course, this constitutes identity theft, which is a felony. However, the unwitting beneficiaries in this scheme are often legitimate Social Security recipients. In many cases, the person to whom the actual Social Security number belongs will have excess funds contributed to their Social Security account, which they -- not the illegal worker -- will collect in higher benefits when they reach retirement.

In other cases, when the number itself is fictitious, the money goes into a special account, which the Social Security Administration has dubbed the Earnings Suspense File. Over the last decade, illegal immigrants contributed about $7 billion a year in excess Social Security payments and another $1.5 billion in Medicare taxes. Coulter and the radical groups she cites, such as Numbers USA, conveniently ignore these facts when discussing the costs of illegal immigration.

But Coulter is also wrong on the politics of the illegal immigration issue. Fewer than 5 percent of Americans list illegal immigration as one of their top issues, according to recent polls. Nor are Hispanics the monolithic anti-GOP group Coulter presents them to be. As I've noted before, pro-immigrant Republicans like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush have won more than 40 percent of the Hispanic vote. Yes, Republicans have lost support among Hispanic voters in the last few elections -- but largely because of the often nasty and false rhetoric employed by the immigration-restrictionist crowd. Illegal immigration is lower now than at any time in four decades, which you'd never know by listening to the hard-liners in the party.

If Coulter and other anti-immigrant stalwarts were serious about solving the illegal immigrant problem, they'd make it possible for needed workers to immigrate legally. Of course, Coulter's real fear is that these largely Hispanic workers and their children will reject the GOP. But even without more Hispanic immigrants, this segment of the population is growing rapidly. And the Coulters of the world are likely to create a self-fulfilling prophecy with their anti-Hispanic rhetoric.

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .

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