The Heritage Foundation released a pivotal report today  which calculates that granting amnesty to illegal immigrants will cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion.

Some highlights from the report:

  • 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.

The report covers four types of benefits:

Unlawful immigration and amnesty for current unlawful immigrants can pose large fiscal costs for U.S. taxpayers. Government provides four types of benefits and services that are relevant to this issue:

  • Direct benefits. These include Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation.
  • Means-tested welfare benefits. There are over 80 of these programs which, at a cost of nearly $900 billion per year, provide cash, food, housing, medical, and other services to roughly 100 million low-income Americans. Major programs include Medicaid, food stamps, the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit, public housing, Supplemental Security Income, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
  • Public education. At a cost of $12,300 per pupil per year, these services are largely free or heavily subsidized for low-income parents.
  • Population-based services. Police, fire, highways, parks, and similar services, as the National Academy of Sciences determined in its study of the fiscal costs of immigration, generally have to expand as new immigrants enter a community; someone has to bear the cost of that expansion.

What do you think about the economic cost of amnesty? Do you think this report will change the national debate? 

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