Heritage: Immigration Bill Costs $6.3 Trillion

Image: Heritage: Immigration Bill Costs $6.3 Trillion Jim DeMint

Monday, 06 May 2013 11:27 AM


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The conservative Heritage Foundation is claiming in a new report that bipartisan immigration legislation pending in the Senate would cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion.

The study from the Republican-led group opposed to an immigration overhaul is sure to come under fire. Already, the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute has decried it as "fatally flawed." Critics say it doesn't measure economic boosts from the bill.

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Heritage says the costs come from more than $9 trillion in government benefits to newly legalized immigrants over their lifetimes — only partially counterbalanced by $3 trillion they would pay in taxes.

During Congress' last immigration debate, in 2007, a Heritage report said the bill under consideration at the time would cost $2.6 trillion. The conclusion was criticized, but carried weight with Republicans and the bill was defeated.

“No matter how you slice it, amnesty will add a tremendous amount of pressure on America’s already strained public purse,” said Robert Rector, Heritage’s senior research fellow in domestic policy studies, told The Hill.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set this week to mark up the 844-page immigration reform bill crafted by the so-called Gang of Eight.

The typical illegal immigrant household receives $14,000 more in government benefits than it pays in taxes, according to the study. Heritage estimates that gap would jump to $29,500 per household after 10 years when immigrants would become eligible for welfare and other benefits, if the pending legislation became law.

Millions of illegal immigrants would receive provisional legal status almost immediately under the bill. They then would receive permanent legal status after a period of 10 years. They would be eligible for citizenship after an estimated wait of 13-and-a-half years.

“After amnesty, the typical unlawful immigrant will receive government benefits for 50 years, meaning his household would receive $592,000 more in government benefits during his lifetime than he would pay in taxes,” Heritage concludes.

The average illegal immigrant would draw more than $3 in Social Security and Medicare for every dollar paid in Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes, the study said.

On Sunday, appearing on ABC's "This Week," Heritage President Jim DeMint said the bill would devastate the U.S. economy.

"There's no reason we can't begin to fix our immigration system so that we won't make this problem worse," the former South Carolina lawmaker said on ABC's "This Week." "But the bill that's being presented is unfair to those who came here legally. It will cost Americans trillions of dollars."

And despite the Congressional Budget Office having different numbers, DeMint maintains Gross Domestic Product will be hurt for years to come. A former mentor to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the immigration reform bill's chief sponsors, DeMint was a fierce foe of the last reform effort, in 2007. A much-criticized Heritage study released that year also said a Bush administration plan would cost trillions.

The CBO said Obamacare would cost nothing, DeMint said, but has been proved wrong. "They're basically puppets of the Congress and the assumptions they put into the bill."

"If you consider all the factors related to the amnesty — and, believe me, this is comprehensive — that it will have a negative long-term impact on our gross domestic product," DeMint said. "So we just want Congress, for once, to count the cost of a bill. They're notorious for underestimating the cost and not understanding the consequences."

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"Our country faces very difficult economic and financial problems, but [Obama] seems content to bring up emotional, divisive issues, whether it be guns or immigration, and start the fight and play the referee," DeMint added.

DeMint believes the bill will be defeated if people read it.

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