MSNBC's Hayes: GOP Making Immigration Bill 'Less Humane' and 'Worse for Our Country'

On Monday's All In show, MSNBC host Chris Hayes complained about Republicans trying to increase the number of border agents and to bar illegal immigrants from collecting Social Security benefits based on taxes they've paid into the system.

After recounting the time when he worked with several illegal immigrants in a bakery who paid Social Security taxes, and the efforts by Republicans to make the border with Mexico "one of the most militarized places in this country," Hayes concluded:

Every time Republicans get a chance to, they are making this bill less humane, more expensive, and worse for our country. And this thing hasn't even hit the House yet. Just wait until Louie Gohmert and his gang get their hands on it.

The MSNBC host also dismissed conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh and Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio as engaging in "banshee wailing" about illegal immigration:

And despite all this banshee wailing from the likes of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Rush Limbaugh, that unauthorized immigrants are moochers just sucking off the nation`s teat, it turns out that because they have Social Security numbers, they're paying payroll taxes.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday, June 24, All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC:

CHRIS HAYES: When I was 17 years old, I had a summer job at bakery here in New York City. In that bakery working alongside me were a bunch of guys from a province just south of Mexico City, called Puebla. They worked the overnight shift, and sometimes I would stay up all night with them, I'd help them with the baking, and they'd help me get better with Spanish.

Now, all of these guys were in the country without permission, but because I worked with them, I learned something I hadn't known until I started this job, that all of them actually had Social Security numbers. The way it generally works in this country's vast gray labor market is unauthorized immigrant workers use a Social Security number tied to a made up name or one that belonged to someone else, a relative or someone deceased. If they entered the country under a temporary work visa, in that case, they could obtain a legal Social Security card and use that number even if they ended up overstaying the visa.

And despite all this banshee wailing from the likes of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Rush Limbaugh, that unauthorized immigrants are moochers just sucking off the nation`s teat, it turns out that because they have Social Security numbers, they're paying payroll taxes. They're paying into Social Security. In fact, according to the Washington Post, in just 2007, the Social Security trust fund had received a net benefit of somewhere between $120 billion and $240 billion from unauthorized immigrants.

Now, I don't know where those guys I baked bread with at 17 are today. A bunch of them are probably back in Mexico because we've seen a lot of net migration out of the country, the rest still here, and likely among the nation's 11 million-person shadow workforce. One thing I do know is that they're almost certainly not collecting Social Security checks because unauthorized immigrants are ineligible for Social Security benefits, even though they are required to pay the same taxes as all their workers. But if any of them were to become citizens, they would have the opportunity to benefit from their actually work record.

Those who used a made up number or overstayed a visa, can right now when they become legal, show proof to the Social Security Administration of their prior work record and have their own legal proper Social Security account credited with the wages they paid in, which, to me seems perfectly fair and reasonable and obvious, really. I mean, they did pay in there.

Well, an hour ago, that changed a bit. The Senate closed a vote that would put an end to that practice. The Senate voted to approve the new amended version of comprehensive immigration reform bill, which includes the Corker/Holden amendment, a so-called border surge designed to win more Republican votes. But buried in this amendment is language that instructs the U.S. government to confiscate the Social Security taxes paid by all unauthorized workers between 2004 and 2014 even after they gain citizenship status. It doesn't matter that they paid in like everyone else. It's now ours and they don't get it back.

And if you didn't know about this detail, I bet you that some of the people voting for this bill didn't know about it, either, because everyone was all excited about getting close to 70 votes, about winning Republican support and we shook hands before they spent much time looking at the details. Which also included doubling the number of border patrol agents from 20,000 to 40,000. That means an agent for every 1,000 feet of the southern border.

Both Corker and Hoeven want to construct 700 miles of fencing, twice as much as authorized in the original version of the bill. And, not only that, but the amendment changes (AUDIO GAP) so border patrol agents can search vehicles within a reasonable distance of the southern border which is defined as 100 miles, which takes us up to Mitt Romney's beach front home in Lajoya, California, which falls within the perimeter. Better check that car in the driveway, Mitt. And a lot of the implementation of these border security measures will almost certainly be contracted out to private companies, which prompted Senator Patrick Leahy to say this on the floor.

SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): Modification to the Leahy amendment before us reads like a Christmas wish list for Halliburton.

HAYES: That's right. And get this: While we pour money, fencing, and armed agents onto the border, while we gear it up with all sorts of high-tech surveillance activities, while we arm it and make sure it's one of the most militarized places in this country, the task force charged with oversight for this increasingly militarized stretch of our country will not have any subpoena power. It's just a paper commission.

Now, it may be that the amendment with all of its pork barrel spending and punitive measures is an acceptable price to pay for a path to citizenship for 11 million people, but let's not lose sight of what's happening here. Every time Republicans get a chance to, they are making this bill less humane, more expensive, and worse for our country. And this thing hasn't even hit the House yet. Just wait until Louie Gohmert and his gang get their hands on it. We'll be right back with "Click 3."

Brad Wilmouth
Brad Wilmouth is a contributing blogger to NewsBusters