Senators Attempt To Put Roadblocks On The Path To Citizenship

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee convened for the fourth day and passed two amendments that make the legalization process impossible for people who use fraudulent documents. Among the amendments that help to strengthen civil liberties protections in the bill, the committee passed several amendments that would exclude many undocumented immigrants from earning legal status.

One of Lee’s amendment would re-insert back into law “the criminal offense of knowing use of a fraudulent immigration document,” could severely impact the number of people who can apply for RPI status. Another amendment would “make attempted misuse of a passport a criminal offense” and could potentially misidentify undocumented immigrants as national security threats. The current undocumented population makes up about five percent of the workforce and about three-quarters of “other-than-legal immigrants [who] pay payroll taxes.”

Lee’s amendments would make it a federal offense for workers to continue using false Social Security numbers, but it could potentially hurt the chances of current undocumented immigrants who do not know that they have secured Social Security numbers under false pretenses, like undocumented teenagers whose parents do not tell them of their status. Many undocumented immigrants use fake documents to find employment, but they are paying around $8.1 billion a year into the earnings suspense file of the Social Security Trust Fund. According to some studies, undocumented immigrants are keeping the trust fund solvent because they are unable to withdraw from those accounts.

Criminalizing undocumented immigrants who are contributing to the tax system would not only prevent them from gaining provisional status, but it also has the implications of delaying the legalization process by subjecting them to extensive scrutiny.