Michael Cutler, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, falsely suggested on 630 KHOW-AM's The Peter Boyles Show that federal authorities currently remove fewer illegal immigrants from the United States than New York did several years ago. In fact, statistics show that immigration officials removed more than 100 times the number Cutler suggested for New York.
During the December 21 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Peter Boyles Show, guest Michael Cutler, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, falsely claimed that the United States as a whole annually removes* fewer illegal immigrants than did New York a number of years ago when, he said, up to 1,500 illegal immigrants were removed every month. In fact, federal statistics show that in fiscal year 2006, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities removed 187,513 illegal aliens -- 100 times more than Cutler's estimate for New York alone.
Boyles and Cutler were discussing an article -- apparently posted to The Denver Post website on December 19, but which Boyles attributed to the Rocky Mountain News -- about suspected illegal immigrants detained in December 12 ICE raids on six Swift & Co. meatpacking plants, including one in Greeley. The article reported that "[s]ome were released after relatives posted bond" and "[s]ome 75 out of 260 workers detained in Greeley already have been returned to Mexico."
Cutler -- who is a veteran of ICE's predecessor, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) -- claimed that "years ago" agents in New York "routinely" removed as many as 1,500 immigrants per month, or 18,000 per year.
From the December 21 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Peter Boyles Show:
BOYLES: I was trying to do the math last night on this raid. Now, the Rocky Mountain News on the 19th of December says 261 suspected illegals were taken in that raid. All right, let's do the math. I'm not sure -- at least, at least 75 of the two-sixty have returned to Mexico. Then here, this is the great line: "Some were released after relatives posted bond." What's the "some"? What's a number?
CUTLER: They can't count. They're, they're not good at counting.
BOYLES: All right, so -- and then, by the way, people were brought back after they were going to be deported. So what it turns out to be, according to -- only six people who were taken in that arrest have been charged with felony ID theft. And my understanding from talking to very reliable sources, means they did more than merely steal Social Security numbers -- fraudulently using identification to use to get the job. There was other reasons. And there's only six.
CUTLER: But look, here's the point, here's the point. Years ago, before we even thought -- I mean, we always did -- but before the bureaucrats, politicians, and what have you thought that immigration enforcement was a component of national security, in New York every month we would routinely move -- pardon me -- anywhere from a thousand to fourteen hundred, fifteen hundred illegal aliens out of the United States -- just out of New York in one month. Now the entire country does less than one month's worth of work than in the old days in New York for the whole country for a whole year. Or whatever. I mean, the numbers are just incredibly low.
Contrary to Cutler's assertion, a November 2 ICE fact sheet reported that in fiscal year 2006 (concluded October 31), "ICE removed 187,513 illegal aliens from the country," a total that is "a ten percent increase over the number of removals during the prior fiscal year." And in the period 1997-2001, according to a February 2003 INS report, federal immigration authorities on average removed 97,338 illegal aliens per year -- roughly half the number of the most recent year, but still vastly greater than the number of removals that Cutler claimed for New York "years ago."
Also during the broadcast, Cutler falsely claimed that, under the immigration reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate, illegal immigrants would be entitled to Social Security benefits. In fact, the measure would allow formerly illegal immigrants to collect Social Security benefits only after obtaining United States citizenship.
CUTLER: So now, now here's the point: Under the Senate Bill that was passed by the United States Senate -- and this is what the president wants -- if an illegal alien works illegally in our country, having entered our country illegally or having otherwise violated the immigration laws, and then commits identity theft, according to the Senate bill, that illegal alien would be entitled to Social Security benefits, and would become vested in the system so that even after he or she goes home, the benefits follow them home.
As Colorado Media Matters has noted, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S. 2611), would open a "path to citizenship for illegal immigrants now in the country who have broken no law other than working here illegally." During the election season, numerous campaign ads falsely suggested that the legislation would grant Social Security benefits to illegal aliens. The misrepresentation appears to stem from the defeat of an amendment (S.A. 3985), proposed by Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), to the Senate immigration bill on May 18. As Ensign noted in announcing his amendment, "Under current law, an individual who has entered this country illegally and worked for a number of years can, after obtaining legal status, apply for and receive Social Security benefits relating to the work done while that person was in the country illegally."
Ensign's amendment, which failed on a procedural vote, would have denied immigrants currently working illegally in the United States who later became eligible for Social Security (as citizens or legal residents), any credit for Social Security taxes they paid while working illegally. For example, a person who enters the country on a work-eligible temporary visa can legally obtain a Social Security number (SSN). If the worker overstays that visa, a non-verifying employer can still file Social Security taxes using the worker's previously issued SSN. If the unauthorized worker later becomes a U.S. citizen under the "path to citizenship" provisions of the Senate bill, that person could count all the time he or she had worked and paid Social Security taxes, including during the time the worker was in the United States illegally. Under Ensign's proposal, however, the newly legalized worker would have received no credit for contributions made to Social Security while working illegally.
During the floor debate on Ensign's amendment, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), one of the Senate bill's authors, noted that the Senate bill -- without Ensign's amendment -- does not change the current ban on unauthorized immigrants receiving Social Security benefits:
McCAIN: Mr. President, I rise in strong opposition to the Ensign amendment. Under current law, undocumented immigrants are ineligible for Social Security benefits which I think is entirely appropriate. But we all know that millions of undocumented immigrants pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for years and sometimes decades while they work to contribute to our economy.
The Ensign amendment would undermine the work of these people by preventing lawfully present immigrant workers from claiming Social Security benefits that they earned before they were authorized to work in our country. If this amendment is enacted, the nest egg that these immigrants have worked hard for would be taken from them and their families.
* Includes removals executed through orders of deportation, exclusion, and removal. Excludes expedited removals as well as confirmed voluntary departures.