The Senate immigration reform bill being pushed by the so-called “Gang of Eight” will cost U.S. taxpayers roughly $6.3 trillion, according to a new study from the Heritage Foundation.
The study bases its claim on the estimated amount of benefits the feds will pay out to newly legalized immigrants minus the amount they will pay back in taxes.
The Heritage report claims that over the lifetime of newly legalized immigrants, the feds will dole out roughly $9.4 trillion in government benefits – including Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, coverage under Obamacare, etc.
Newly legalized immigrants, for their part, will pay back approximately $3.1 trillion in taxes:“Unlawful immigration and amnesty for current unlawful immigrants can pose large fiscal costs for U.S. taxpayers,” a summary of the report reads, noting the four types of relevant fed benefits and services:
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.
“The study…presents a staggering cost of another amnesty in our country,” Heritage President Jim DeMint said Sunday during a roundtable discussion on ABC News’ “This Week,” citing the “detrimental effects long-term” of fed benefits that would be extended to immigrants offered “a path to citizenship” under the reform bill currently being considered.
“There’s no reason we can’t begin to fix our immigration system so that we won’t make this problem worse. But the bill that’s being presented is unfair to those who came here legally,” he added. “It will cost Americans trillions of dollars. It’ll make our unlawful immigration system worse.”
Watch former Senator DeMint discuss immigration reform here [relevant comments at the 03:00 mark]:
This is not Heritage’s first takedown of an immigration bill.
Indeed, when the U.S. Senate tried in 2007 to negotiate immigration reform, the conservative think tank released a study that many say helped derail those efforts (the group put the cost of immigration at roughly $2.6 trillion).Unsurprisingly, the group’s studies on the cost of immigration reform have attracted critics, including Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute, who wrote in April that the study’s “flawed methodology produced a grossly exaggerated cost to federal taxpayers of legalizing unauthorized immigrants while undercounting or discounting their positive tax and economic contributions.”
But DeMint shrugs off these criticisms, arguing that estimates from groups such as the Congressional Budget Office, which claims immigration reform will lead to economic growth, are faulty at best.
“Well, CBO said Obamacare wouldn’t cost us anything. They’re basically puppets of the Congress and the assumptions they put in the bill. Heritage is only organization that has done an analysis on the cost,” DeMint said.
“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,” he added.
“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.”
You can read the full Heritage study here:
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Featured image Getty Images. This post has been updated.