Senate chairman presses on immigrant Social Security numbers

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLobbying world Congress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears MORE (R-Utah) wants the Obama administration to spill more information about how many immigrants protected from deportation will receive Social Security numbers.

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In a Monday letter, Hatch charged that the Social Security Administration’s own projections suggest it’s not expecting to hand out an influx of new Social Security cards — despite the fact that Obama’s executive actions paved the way for immigrants to also potentially receive work permits and Social Security numbers.

Hatch also accused Carolyn Colvin, the acting commissioner of the Social Security agency, of keeping Congress out of the loop on its work, saying it was "disappointing to have the SSA [Social Security Administration] formulating plans and procedures in secret and outside of the light of congressional oversight." Hatch had previously asked Colvin similar questions a month ago but said in Monday’s letter he had yet to receive a response.

The Utah Republican’s letter comes just days after congressional Republicans backed down in their fight over Obama’s actions on immigration by fully funding the Homeland Security Department for the rest of the fiscal year.

But senior Republicans on Capitol Hill have kept a close eye on the administration’s push to potentially give Social Security cards to immigrants protected from deportation. Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — FDA moves to sell hearing aids over-the-counter McConnell: GOP should focus on future, not 'rehash' 2020 Iowa Democratic Party chair says he received multiple threats after op-ed critical of Trump MORE (R-Iowa), for instance, is expected to soon roll out a bill that would block those immigrants from receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is aimed at helping working families.

In his letter, Hatch asked about projections in President Obama’s budget that suggested there would be little change in the number of Social Security numbers handed out between 2014 and 2016.

The president’s budget says that the Social Security Administration expects to handle requests for roughly 16 million new or replacement Social Security cards in fiscal 2016. The Obama administration also has said that it gave out, or expected to give out, 16 million Social Security cards in 2014 and 2015 as well.

But Hatch is asking how that can be the case, given that the administration’s actions on immigration are likely to “significantly increase the number of SSNs that SSA will process, grant and complete.”

Hatch was a central figure last year in the GOP’s successful efforts to block Colvin from being confirmed as Social Security commissioner, insisting that Colvin was in charge of the agency at a time when there was “evidence of criminal conduct there.”