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Social Security's shortfall: Immigration no fix

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Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, 8:53 p.m.

The challenges that America's aging presents for Social Security's solvency must be resolved by confronting them head-on, not by relying on immigration-driven population growth.

A new Center for Immigration Studies ( report analyzes U.S. Census Bureau projections to explain why.

Net immigration will increase the population from 2010's 309 million to 436 million in 2050, with immigrants — legal and illegal — constituting nearly one-fifth. Even with just half that projected immigration, population still will rise by 79 million by 2050, with immigrants 61 percent of that growth.

Yet immigration will increase 2050's working-age portion of the population by only 1 percent over what it'd be without immigration. The report says raising the retirement age by just one year would have a bigger positive impact.

Plus, as Federation for American Immigration Reform ( spokesman Ira Mehlman points out, immigrants tend to hold low-paying jobs and eventually will collect Social Security benefits — but their Social Security contributions won't offset those benefits' cost.

America must “deal with the structural problems” plaguing Social Security, according to Mr. Mehlman. It must not buy the “immigration fix” that some in the “intelligentsia” are selling.

America can't “import” its way out of this demographic dilemma. Rather, it must pursue reforms — such as raising the retirement age — that address Social Security's fundamental problems.

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