Legalizing illegal immigrants could cost Americans billions of dollars every year, especially if they used their new status to apply for Medicaid and Obamacare, Senate Republicans said on Thursday.
GOP members on the Senate Budget Committee, led by ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, said that taxpayers could spend as much as $40 billion in 2022, “just for Medicaid and Obamacare” alone.
“The net costs would be enormous and only increase once citizenship is granted,” Sessions’ office said in a statement. The costs were estimated by the staffs of the GOP committee members.
The senators’ report comes in response to the bipartisan Gang of Eight’s draft bill for comprehensive immigration reform that is expected to be presented after Congress returns from Easter recess next week.
The group includes GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.
The planned legislation includes a path to citizenship for as many as 11 million illegal immigrants. Medicaid and Obamacare benefits are among the many eligible to green-card holders and U.S. citizens.
But Rubio has insisted that limits would be placed on federal benefits to illegal immigrants. They first would get a nonimmigrant visa — not a green card — “and you don't qualify for any federal benefits under that. You don't get federal benefits,” he told Fox News in January.
That would change once they obtained a green card.
The GOP senators also expressed concern that a “public charge” law, which seeks to prevent immigrants from coming to the U.S. solely to obtain benefits, was not included in the Gang of Eight’s forthcoming plan.
That law dates back a century and was renewed by Congress in 1996.
But Alex Conant, a Rubio spokesman, disputed the senators’ report.
“Since we don’t yet have a legislative proposal, it’s not possible to come up with anything resembling an accurate calculation about the potential fiscal impact of bipartisan immigration reform,” Conant said in a statement.
He said the group plans to ask for a financial analysis of any planned legislation from the Congressional Budget Office.
“Senator Rubio has been clear that he will only support legislation that prohibits undocumented immigrants from receiving any federal benefits, and in our negotiations, the Democrats have gone along with that demand — even agreeing to a partial repeal of Obamacare to bar undocumented immigrants benefits,” Conant said.
“In the long-term, there’s no question that modernizing our broken legal immigration will be very good for our nation’s economy.”
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