Washington - We are few hundred thousands of Moroccans living in the US since the early 80s and some before that. We have been known as a community of hard workers, entrepreneurs, innovators, civil society leaders and academics. With that comes the reality that we are a considerable workforce.
Washington – We are few hundred thousands of Moroccans living in the US since the early 80s and some before that. We have been known as a community of hard workers, entrepreneurs, innovators, civil society leaders and academics. With that comes the reality that we are a considerable workforce.
You will always find a professional community of Moroccan-Americans in the large metropolis this country has to offer such as Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Washington DC, Boston, Orlando and so forth. That is where the jobs are and that is where we target to live.
With this short introduction about our active and professional community, which can easily be backed by statistical intelligence from various social and professional sites such as LinkedIn, we deduct that we do contribute to the “system”. This means, for the majority of us who work in corporate America or run their own business, we are required to pay into the various federal and state programs which are known as the Statutory Payroll Tax Deductions.
These deductions are taken from our paychecks either 12 to 13 times a year for those paid on a monthly basis or 26 times a year for biweekly earners.
We count at least five standards ones: Federal income tax, social security tax (6.2% up to the annual maximum rate), medicare (1.45%), state income tax where applicable and county or local taxes.
In addition to this, we contribute to our respective 401 Ks and 403s, pensions and other retirement instruments which are either employer matched or not, maximized or not.
That said, my point by this preface is to bring out to the forefront my battle with the system – what’s new would you ask?
As a large, growing workforce that is highly educated and motivated to reach even higher heights and break further ceilings, we are confirming our anchoring here but our attachment to Morocco will never dwindle down. With time, it seems that our longing for the magical retirement in Marrakech or Tetouan or Ksar Lekbir, El Jadida or Errachidia which was once elusive, is now looming near as we face perils of life in the US: more government shutdowns, super storm sandy, the bankruptcy of Detroit, the xenophobia of the south…
We want to claim what is rightfully ours through our hard work, which is our retirement contributions. But we want to enjoy it in our native land without reverting to a third language necessarily. The issue is that we cannot!
We cannot as regular US citizen (exception for US Government employees and military personnel) rely on an automatic renewal of retirement benefits without our physical presence in the US. Certain elements of health coverage are not transferable and do require a certain regular check in with your medical providers to ensure continuation.
The solution is simple: the establishment of a totalization agreement (international social security agreement) between Morocco and the US to allow the seamless transfer of funds and benefits from the US to Morocco for those who contributed into the US system. This, in return, will translate into a guaranteed source of revenue for Morocco.
Now more than ever, unfortunately, this topic should catapult to the center of US-Morocco discussions to ensure the protection of the rights of the Moroccan community in this country. Today, it remains a peripheral issue, rarely discussed within our community, but which I have lobbied for since 2009 without success or interest from the various diplomats Morocco appointed in the US as well as the Ministry of MRE.
I think at this point we need a critical mass to bring more interest to this issue and explore ways to obtain a buy-in from our appointed officials from Morocco. Through our lobbying efforts at American-Moroccan Legal Empowerment Network (AMLEN)http://amlenetwork.org/ , we hope to establish a collaborative platform of dialogue between the Moroccan American community and the Moroccan government.
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