CLAIM: U.S. Border Patrol agents are giving Social Security numbers to immigrants who cross the border into the U.S. without authorization.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. 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 Associated Press. Immigrants living in the U.S. illegally aren’t eligible for Social Security numbers unless they meet certain criteria, experts say.
THE FACTS: 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. A video of her comments has circulated widely across social media platforms.
In the clip, which was recorded during a Saturday event promoting election conspiracies in Tempe, Arizona, Logan tells the audience, “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. They get assigned a Social Security number when they cross.”
The video clip spread on conservative blogs and websites. Social media users also repeated the claim. One Twitter user wrote on Sunday, “BREAKING REPORT: Investigative Journalist Lara Logan Drops Bomb, says Officials are Giving Social Security Numbers to Illegal Aliens at the US Border.”
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. I believe it’s a false statement.”
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.
“Under current restrictive policies at the border, it’s actually a pretty small percentage of people who make their way in, are able to apply for asylum, and then eventually get work authorization and a Social Security number,” she said.
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 regularly review client paperwork and how processes at the border take place,” she said. “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.”
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.