Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint and Heritage expert Robert Rector shed light on the real cost of granting amnesty to illegal immigrants in today’s Washington Post:
For centuries immigration has been vital to our nation’s health, and it will be essential to our future success. Yet immigrants should come to our nation lawfully and should not impose additional fiscal costs on our overburdened taxpayers. An efficient and merit-based system would help our economy and lessen the burden on taxpayers, strengthening our nation.
A properly structured lawful immigration system holds the potential to drive positive economic growth and job creation. But amnesty for those here unlawfully is not necessary to capture those benefits . . .
An exhaustive study by the Heritage Foundation has found that after amnesty, current unlawful immigrants would receive $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services and pay more than $3 trillion in taxes over their lifetimes. That leaves a net fiscal deficit (benefits minus taxes) of $6.3 trillion. That deficit would have to be financed by increasing the government debt or raising taxes on U.S. citizens.
Do you think our nation’s taxpayers can afford to cover the $6.3 trillion cost of granting amnesty to illegal immigrants?
This is the kind of policy fight for which Jim DeMint was hired.
The former South Carolina GOP senator and tea party hero took over last month as president of the 40-year-old conservative think tank, and got straight to work. He has blasted the Gang of Eight’s proposal as “amnesty,” criticized negotiators for drafting the bill in secret and is trying to highlight the bill’s potential costs if millions of undocumented immigrants are made eligible for federal benefits.
If DeMint and Heritage — with its policy analyses and feisty advocacy arm — can help keep the right unified on immigration, it could force Democrats and the White House to accept amendments they don’t like in order to get something through — or simply kill the bill.
Heritage has been here before. The group helped sink previous immigration efforts by focusing on costs. Senior research fellow Robert Rector released a study in 2007 saying that immigration legislation could cost taxpayers $2.6 trillion.
Monday, Heritage said immigration reform could cost $6.3 trillion on new spending on entitlements and social programs.
DeMint appeared on Fox News this morning to explain the costs of granting amnesty:
Do you think lawmakers will balk at the costs of this plan?
If amnesty is enacted, the average adult unlawful immigrant would receive $592,000 more in government benefits over his lifetime than he would pay in taxes.
The lifetime fiscal deficit of amnesty — benefits minus taxes — would be $6.3 trillion, and that’s a conservative estimate.
When those granted amnesty retire and collect Social Security, they would draw $3.00 out of the pot for every $1.00 they paid in.
In 2010, the average unlawful immigrant household received around $24,721 in government benefits and services while paying some $10,334 in taxes. That means that each illegal immigrant household today costs taxpayers $14,387 per year. Amnesty would provide unlawful households with access to over 80 means-tested welfare programs, Obamacare, Social Security, and Medicare. The fiscal deficit for each household would soar.
In their 93-page report, Heritage welfare expert Robert Rector and domestic policy scholar Jason Richwine break down the cost of amnesty to the U.S. taxpayer. Even accounting for the phased approach to implementing government benefits that some amnesty advocates favor, the long-term cost is astronomical. Continue Reading »
Next week Senators will begin to debate the “Gang of Eight’s” comprehensive immigration bill. Heritage President Jim DeMint has said the bill is “unfair, it costs too much, and it’s going to make the problem worse.”
Below is an infographic that explains some of the major problems with a “comprehensive” approach to immigration reform. Continue Reading »
News reports that suspected Boston bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev received large amounts of welfare benefits draw “attention to the policy principle that immigrants should be net contributors to the government and society and should not be a fiscal burden on American society,” The Heritage Foundation’s Rachel Sheffield argues.
As ABC News reports, the time Tamerlan was receiving state aid “coincides with the years Tamerlan Tsarnaev reportedly became more radicalized. He was interviewed by the FBI in 2011 after Russia flagged Tsarnaev for his potentially dangerous views.” At the time of the bombing, neither of the brothers was receiving benefits.
The core problem with amnesty is clear: It encourages more unlawful immigration in hopes of future amnesties, and it treats unlawful immigrants more favorably than more than 4 million law-abiding people who wait outside our borders, following the rules, for their chance to come to contribute to the economic and social well-being of America.
A properly structured lawful immigration system would help our economy. This is why Heritage and conservatives have long argued for reforming the legal immigration system to make the process more efficient, more merit-based. We need an immigration process that attracts high-skilled workers and encourages patriotic assimilation to unite new immigrants with America’s vibrant civil society.
Amnesty for unlawful immigrants is totally different. Amnesty would impose significant tax burdens on Americans that are completely unnecessary to capture the positive economics that would be associated with a properly reformed lawful immigration system.
The current issue of the policy journal National Affairs features two separate articles written by Heritage Foundation experts.
In the first article, Heritage expert Stuart Butler argues that economic mobility and the American Dream are best promoted not by an expanded welfare state but by empowering the poorest to benefit from the opportunities that our country offers.
The answer to our concerns about inequality and mobility is to foster a broad commitment to strengthening the institutions of civil society, particularly the family. It requires local and national leaders to call for a reaffirmation of the virtues of industriousness, honesty, marriage, and religiosity in the communities from which they have been disappearing. The best, and indeed the only fruitful, way for government to participate in this effort is to remove the obstacles and perverse incentives of its own making — and to foster an environment in which our charitable and social institutions are free to form citizens of the high character a great nation demands.