Opinion

The Crisis at the Southern Border Is a Modern Day Gold Rush

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Posted: May 30, 2019 4:01 PM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not represent the views of Townhall.com.
The Crisis at the Southern Border Is a Modern Day Gold Rush

Source: AP Photo/Moises Castillo

During the peak of the California gold rush in the late 1840’s, hundreds of thousands of people trekked west on the Oregon, California and Mormon trails in an effort to improve their financial fortunes.

Today, there is another type of Gold Rush taking place on our southern border. But the gold being sought today isn’t mined from the earth or panned from water—it’s bilked from the American people, courtesy of Congress and our socialistic tax code. Our broken tax system encourages migrants to enter America illegally, making it worth their while to pay their life savings to coyotes, take a thousand-mile walk, deal with smugglers, the cartel and various gangs along the way.

Economic opportunity in America is unmatched, but throw in a free public education, healthcare and welfare benefits on top and surely this is enough for the caravans to continue to grow. But those incentives may not explain the explosive growth of these caravans that have resulted in record apprehensions and the swelling of asylum seekers at ports of entries, overloading America’s broken immigration system. Add in cash payments through a horribly conceived tax code and we have sweetened the incentives that migrant laborers can get a tax credit refund check that exceeds more than they may make in a year, or multiple years – or possibly even a lifetime in Central America.

In my extensive research for my upcoming book, The Death of Liberty, I was stunned to find out that our progressive tax code allows for substantial tax credit refunds to be paid to illegal immigrants, including those who haven’t paid any federal income taxes. In fact, the IRS has made payments to multiple filers to the same address for dependents who have never stepped foot in the USA, including nieces, nephews, cousins and siblings.

Since 2010, the IRS has paid billions of working American’s hard-earn tax dollars in tax credit refund checks to illegal immigrants. The IRS Inspector General for Tax Administration has continually warned of lack of oversight in these payments to Congress and the IRS Commissioner.

Until Trump’s latest tax reform plan was passed, illegal immigrants – unable to get a social security number as a non-citizen were able to get an ITIN (individual tax identification number) which enabled them to file tax returns. Many illegal immigrants, coached by local tax preparers who cater to immigrants, obtained ITIN numbers for a wide range of dependents including nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. who not only didn’t live with them – but in many cases the dependents had never stepped foot in America.

Amazingly, according to Politico, the IRS has stated that they do not have the authority to determine citizenship qualification, therefore the existing law does not give the IRS the ability to deny the credits. Government websites indicate that an asylum applicant must establish that he or she fears persecution in their home country. Second, the applicant must prove that he or she would be persecuted based on one of five protected grounds: race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or social group.

Today, immigrants seek asylum either affirmatively (appearing at a port of entry) or defensively (entering the U.S. illegally and getting caught). Shockingly, the U.S. government allows those who get caught sneaking in to claim asylum as a defense strategy to stay in the country. Regardless, an asylee (one seeking asylum) can immediately apply for and Employment Authorization Document (EAD), permitting them to gain employment.

Contrary to popular belief, illegal immigrants are immediately available for Medicaid and welfare benefits as an asylee. Claiming asylum or refugee status increases the speed and eligibility of U.S. government programs, but it especially qualifies them to receive Earned Income Tax Credits—“refundable” tax payments.

What most Americans don’t realize—because elected representatives don’t tell them—is that according to the IRS, $63 billion in refundable tax credits were paid in 2018. How much of those hard-earned taxpayer dollars were paid to illegal immigrants and dependents who aren’t even in the country? The IRS can’t tell us. It has been estimated that 20-30% of these payments in the period of 2010 – 2016 went to unqualified recipients.

Is there any wonder why the migrant caravans are growing? There are plenty of coyotes, immigration lawyers, unscrupulous tax preparers and of course the Democratic Party all too willing to help the migrants navigate the newfound largesse that is the American government tax code.

And since there currently is no requirement to use these large tax refund payments (technically, these aren’t refunds as most who qualify didn’t pay any federal taxes to begin with) in any means testing for other welfare benefits such as WIC, SNAP, and Temporary Family Assistance among others, these “gifts” are worth the long and dangerous trek north.

America, the most benevolent country on earth, thanks to the typical American taxpayer and a progressive income tax code that is an instrument of social justice, and inept politicians from both parties.