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Fed-Mexico deal to hijack Social Security

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By Brent Schanding

An email petition hit Shelby County last week urging the federal government to deny illegal immigrants access to U.S. Social Security benefits.

No less than 931 people from 20 states -- including some citizens from Shelby County -- have already signed the petition, which will be sent to the president if Congress approves a contentious immigration bill.

At the center of controversy are negotiations between the Bush Administration and Mexico that would grant Mexicans who have worked in the United States -- including those who worked here illegally -- and their family members abroad, greater access to U.S. Social Security benefits.

The U.S. has 20 such treaties with other countries, mostly those in Europe, and those treaties limit the number of beneficiaries who can receive Social Security benefits.

However, the treaty proposed with Mexico would be starkly different, namely because a far larger number of people would be affected. Initially, 50,000 Mexican workers would be eligible for U.S. Social Security benefits. That is a number that could swell to over 300,000 in a few short years, according to some estimates.

But more notably, the legislation includes a loophole that could allow Mexicans who have worked illegally in the United States to benefit from the agreement.

I say "no aprubelo."

According to the federal general accounting office, the Mexico-U.S. deal could cost the Social Security administration upwards of $650 million. That's $650 million in Social Security payments and services that won't be available for me, or my generation.

Now, I'm not saying that "legal" Mexican workers here, or any immigrants who pay into the U.S. Social Security system, should be denied its perks. But Congress should require the possession of a permanent resident card or citizenship, for anyone to be eligible to draw Social Security services in the United States. I will throw my support to immigrants -- and anyone -- who seek better opportunities, and I will not deny rights to anyone as long as they do not infringe on mine. But I must draw the line at plan where Americans pay for years into a system and cannot reap its rewards because a family of beneficiaries of an illegal Mexican worker has already exhausted their money.

While the Senate has already approved this immigration measure, it is not too late to stop the action. An Internet website asks those who disagree with the Mexico-U.S. treaty to sign a petition, demanding the president veto the bill, if passed by both branches of Congress.

The site can be found at www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/986304291.