Misinformation spreading through social media claims U.S. Border Patrol agents are giving Social Security numbers to immigrants who cross the border into the U.S. without authorization, which the U.S. Border Patrol says is not true.
Border Patrol does not give Social Security numbers to immigrants who cross the border, nor does it have the authority to, a spokesperson for the agency told the AP.
Lara Logan, a former Fox Nation host, recently claimed that U.S. Border Patrol agents are distributing Social Security numbers to immigrants at the border.
In a video that has circulated widely on social media, Logan tells the audience at an event in Tempe, Arizona, that: “Now, when people come across the border illegally — and I have this confirmed from Border Patrol agents who are actually physically doing this — they get given a Social Security number.” The video clip also spread on conservative blogs and websites.
But no such thing is happening, Rhonda Lawson, a spokesperson for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told the AP in an email.
“U.S. Border Patrol does not possess the capability or authority to issue Social Security numbers, and therefore does not issue Social Security numbers to non-citizens who crossed the border,” she wrote.
Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor at Cornell University who teaches immigration law, agreed that Border Patrol agents would not hand out Social Security numbers.
“Even if they were to do it, it would be illegal for them to do it and they could be prosecuted for doing it," he said.
Logan did not immediately respond to the AP’s request for comment. The Social Security Administration also did not respond.
Other experts echoed that Logan’s claim is baseless and not reflective of the process migrants would need to go through to get a Social Security number.
“The scenario she proposes is not plausible,” Evelyn Cruz, a clinical law professor at Arizona State University, wrote in an email to the AP. “Someone entering illegally does not have a right to a Social Security number. Period.”
Generally, noncitizens are only eligible for Social Security numbers if they are authorized to work by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,
Denise Gilman, director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, told the AP. For instance, asylum seekers can obtain a Social Security number after being granted work authorization in order to pay taxes. But it takes “months" for asylum seekers to qualify for a Social Security number, Cruz wrote. They would never be able to obtain one at the border.
Most immigrants attempting to enter the U.S. are not even able to apply for asylum and are expelled under Title 42, a pandemic-related restriction, according to Gilman.
Lawson noted that Border Patrol does typically give migrants at the border an A-number, which is used to track cases in the immigration system. An A-number cannot be used like a Social Security number.
Of Logan’s claim that immigrants are getting Social Security numbers at the border, Gilman said that she had “never ever heard of this happening.”
“I’m quite familiar with the kinds of forms that they get and the proceedings that they undergo and getting a Social Security card is absolutely not one of the things that happen in connection with border processing," she said.
Associated Press writer Josh Kelety in Phoenix contributed this report.