During a town hall meeting in Payson, Arizona last week, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) stunned constituents when he claimed that undocumented immigrants could stand to receive $24,000 in retroactive compensation after they are approved for the president’s executive action on immigration relief.
GOSAR: It was learned the household income deferred tax credit applied retroactively for three years. So each illegal alien will get $24,000 in compensation.AUDIENCE MEMBER: What?GOSAR: Yep, absolutely. When you start looking at the process where the GDP [gross domestic product] in Mexico, the second largest input to that, is our system of Social Security and benefits. And they’re going to make this go away.
As the Washington Post pointed out in its Fact Checker column that ranked the statement with four Pinnochios, Gosar’s claim is inaccurate. Under the president’s executive action to grant temporary work authorization and deportation relief, undocumented immigrants would be allowed to apply for Social Security numbers, which Gosar indicated, could in turn allow them to “file amended tax returns for the last three years claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit. (Gosar called it the ‘household deferred tax credit,’ but he meant the EITC.).” But as a Treasury Department spokesman told the author, the claims process could actually result in people, who don’t work on the books, owing taxes. It’s also an unlikely scenario for undocumented immigrants to earn $24,000, or the “maximum credit” available to taxpayers with three or more children and who are within a specific income range. About 12 percent of EITC recipients fulfill the criteria, but many of them don’t qualify for the maximum credit.
What’s more, Social Security is not the second largest part of Mexico’s gross domestic product. As Gosar’s spokesman Steven Smith told the Washington Post, “Smith said that Gosar was talking about remittances and its impact on the Mexican economy.” Remittances actually make up only two percent of Mexico’s GDP.
Undocumented immigrants already pay into the Social Security system, having a “net positive effect on Social Security financial status,” and contributing roughly $12 billion to the cash flow of the program in the year 2010, according to a 2013 Social Security Administration report.
Other lawmakers have made similar arguments, calling alleged compensation “amnesty bonuses,” including Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC). Sasse said during in his testimony last week, “By subsidizing illegal entry with four years’ worth of new tax credits, the IRS would promote lawlessness. This program severely undermines the White House’s lip-service to enforcing the law and would increase the burden on law-abiding taxpayers.”
Gosar has stretched the truth about undocumented immigrants in the past. Last September, Gosar tweeted pictures of himself squatting near barbed wire. He wrote, “25 miles of barbed wire fence is the only thing keeping #ISIS out of America. We must secure the border #AZBorderTour.” Obama administration officials dismissed claims that ISIS members could sneak into the country by land, not least of which because federal spending on immigration enforcement already costs $18 billion.
Gosar has also supported: a bill to end the president’s 2012 deferred action program to grant temporary deportation relief and work authorization; limiting citizenship to children born to U.S. citizens or nationals or other lawful residents; likening the Obama administration’s lawsuit against the anti-immigration law in Arizona known as SB 1070 to a “declaration of war [by the federal government] against Arizona;” and sending troops to the border.
The president’s latest executive action, which would have affected about one-third of the undocumented population, was temporarily blocked by a federal judge in Texas this week.