By Rich Belzer

Canada has increased its immigration targets for 2018 through 2020. Overall immigration into Canada for 2016 and 2017 combined was 300,000.

Canada has now increased its immigration target for 2018 alone to 310,000; targets for 2019 and 2020 are 330,000 and 340,000 respectively. Canada has a problem that it is trying to solve.

At the end of World War II, Canadian soldiers came home and were reunited with their wives and girlfriends.

As a result, there was a surge in new babies, a generation that came to be called the baby boomers, the largest generation in Canadian history.

In 2011, the first of the baby boomers reached the age of 65 and began to retire.

Between then and 2031, the entire generation of baby boomers will retire and all of them will be drawing on their Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS), programs, similar to Social Security in the U.S.

Both CPP and OAS are funded by paycheck withholding payments made by workers.

The problem faced by Canada is that, with so many baby boomers departing the workforce and much smaller numbers to replace them, they will not have the money to fund the commitments made to those who are retiring.

The Canadian government recognized that there were only two ways to address this problem: Dramatically increase withholding taxes on current workers, or increase the size of the workforce.

I suspect that most Canadians are pleased that their government has chosen option two and will not be increasing withholding taxes for CPP and OAS.

What about the U.S.?

Didn’t our soldiers fight in World War II?

Don’t we have baby boomers as well? Aren’t they retiring in large numbers and consuming their Social Security and Medicare benefits? Won’t the U.S. have the same shortfall issues as Canada?

The answer to all of these questions is, “Yes.”

The question that follows, of course, is, “Why are we taking the opposite approach to this problem as Canada?”

“Aren’t we in the process of reducing immigration?”

We are; so how do we solve the problem of retiring baby boomers? Clearly, President Trump is not interested in a tax increase so a third option is needed, an option that has already been discussed by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

We’ll just cut back on Social Security and Medicare benefits. This clearly will not be a problem for President Trump, who is a billionaire and can get by without any retirement benefits. On the other hand, if you are a baby boomer who was counting on these benefits … .

The question every American should be asking is why are we taking such a different approach to the problem of retiring baby boomers than Canada. After all, the U.S. is a country of immigrants and descendants of immigrants.

The only American natives are Native Americans. How did we suddenly become so fearful of immigrants at a time when, like Canada, we really need them?

Perhaps you are concerned that incoming immigrants will take your job.

If so, think about the fact that for the past five months, the number of open employer job postings has exceeded the number of unemployed.

Concerned about crime? Multiple studies using federal and state data have found no suggestion that rising immigration rates leads to more violent crime.

I have an idea.

Instead of sending 15,000 soldiers to our southern border, why don’t we send 100 immigration attorneys to meet the “caravan” in Mexico and have them complete all of the paperwork needed to apply for asylum. We could identify each individual and family groups. We could learn about their backgrounds and what they could contribute once inside the U.S.

Perhaps by the time they reached the U.S. border, we would have been able to process their asylum requests and admit them legally.

We have the same problem to solve as Canada. It might make sense to follow its example.

— Rich Belzer lives in Bend.

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