Repeat after Me: Amnesty Bill Will Cost Trillions

Published on June 18th, 2013

By Joe Guzzardi
June 7, 2013

Just two short months ago, Washington anxiously awaited the new immigration bill. Even before its details were known, Congress and pundits predicted that this bill would—once and for all—solve the nation’s immigration problems. Sunday morning talk shows and mainstream media reporters heaped praise on various Gang of Eight members, most notably Senator Marco Rubio, and proclaimed them conquering heroes.

Today, however, as the Senate prepares to take up the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, S. 744, a very different scene is playing out. The consensus is that the Senate doesn’t have even the minimum 60 votes to block a filibuster. Tarnished savior Rubio agrees. Embarrassed, he is scampering around trying to add amendments to the bad legislation he supposedly co-authored but appears not to have read.

Rubio wants to tighten up border security even though that is the major provision that he touted early on. Turns out that once scrutinized, S. 744 offers no tighter border security than the nation has today—which is to say, none.

S. 744’s current version is a weightlifter’s nightmare, a 1,076 page behemoth chocked full of nation-shattering provisions. During the first decade, more than 33 million overseas workers would be added to an economy with persistently high unemployment, especially among blacks and other minorities. More than 50 percent of recent college graduates cannot find a job that justifies the debt they incurred to earn their diplomas.

American job displacement is but one part of S.744’s double whammy. Not only would American jobs be at risk, taxpayers would have to underwrite their own displacement. The non-partisan Center for Immigration Studies in a report titled “The Fiscal Cost of Amnesty”, found that S. 744’s cost would be more than $6 trillion, and possibly higher. Even CIS’ critics don’t deny the ultimate, staggering price tag.

As CIS’ Director of Research Steven A. Camarota says, S. 744’s supporters “haven’t really pointed to any flaws” in these cost estimates. But in today’s emotionally charged atmosphere, the harsh reality is that amnesty advocates will not tolerate valid, well documented immigration criticism. Instead, the tedious racist charge is immediately leveled against even the most obviously objective research. If S. 744 becomes law, here are a few other minefields that might await the unsuspecting public.

First, as in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, the numbers of illegal aliens and hence the cost to the public to legalize them, is likely understated. In 1986, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the legacy INS, estimated that about 1.5 million aliens would qualify for amnesty. But more than 3 million qualified.

Today, the Department of Homeland Security calculates that based on Census Bureau information, 11.5 aliens reside in the U.S. Although recent studies used the DHS total in their findings, there could be as many as 20 percent more aliens which would add $1.7 trillion to the aggregate lifetime deficit created by legalizing illegal immigrants.

Second, recent cost studies have been based on the conservative assumption that during the next 50 years means-tested welfare and medical benefits per household will grow no faster than the general inflation rate. But over the last half century welfare and medical costs have increased at a much high rate. Consequently a projected $6 trillion cost may be under-estimated.

Third, just as IRCA did 25 years ago, S. 744 would insure future amnesties. With no enforcement and with Congress’ history of granting amnesty to illegal aliens—this is the eighth amnesty since 1986 and many others have been proposed but defeated—border crossers have little to lose.

Finally, true immigration reform should benefit the families of native-born Americans and legal immigrants, not burden taxpayers with the cost of an unwanted amnesty.


Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]

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