Trump says undocumented immigrants burden the safety net. He’s wrong.

President Donald Trump didn’t miss a chance to vilify undocumented immigrants during his State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

Once again, he painted unauthorized immigrants as a huge burden to the United States — a burden that working-class Americans pay for. And once again, he blamed them for “a depleted social safety net.”

None of this is true. If anything, undocumented immigrants help keep the safety net solventwith the payroll and income taxes they pay.

But let’s just focus on Social Security.

The Social Security system is in trouble. The federal government started dipping into its Social Security savings account in 2018 to help pay retirement benefits to millions of Americans. If nothing changes, that savings account will run dry by 2034, right around when the last of the baby boomers reach retirement age. After that, the government will only have enough money to pay retirees and disabled workers 79 cents for every dollar they’re owed.

These findings were recently published in the Social Security Administration’s 2018 trustees report, prepared by government economists at the SSA. They cited many reasons for the crisis, but it basically comes down to this: More Americans are retiring, and they are living longer. And there is no economic boom in sight.

But buried in the report were a few calculations that point to a potential silver lining, though it’s one that the Trump administration probably doesn’t want to hear. Economic estimates show that immigration would help save the Social Security system. Not just legal immigration — illegal immigration too.

Undocumented immigrants and immigrants with legal status pay billions of dollars each year into the Social Security system through payroll taxes. Based on estimates in the trustees report, the more immigrants that come in, the longer the Social Security system will stay solvent.

By Alexia Fernández Campbell for VOX

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