Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 2, 2014

Heritage: Immigration Reform to Cost Taxpayers $6.3 Trillion

The Heritage Foundation on Monday unveiled its much anticipated study projecting that the Senate “gang of eight” immigration bill would cost the taxpayers $6.3 trillion.

The conservative think tank didn’t disappoint either its critics or its supporters; both expected the organization to predict a prohibitive taxpayer burden in the event that the nearly 11 million illegal residents are legalized and offered a path to eventual citizenship. The libertarian Cato Institute and the conservative Americans for Tax Reform previously predicted that the Heritage study would reveal such findings, much like a similar 2007 analysis by the think tank that supporters of an immigration rewrite blame in part for sinking the last effort to overhaul U.S. immigration law.

Heritage President Jim DeMint, the former South Carolina senator, was scheduled to discuss the new study at 11:30 a.m. during a news conference. The longtime Republican lawmaker and tea party stalwart has moved pre-emptively to defend Heritage’s research. A link to the full analysis is here, a summary of its findings can be found after the jump. Heritage remains strongly opposed to congressional efforts to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul, and is particularly against the path to citizenship component.

From the Heritage press release:

Granting amnesty to an estimated 11 million unlawful immigrants will cost taxpayers at least $6.3 trillion, according to a new report by Heritage Foundation scholar Robert Rector. The highly anticipated report, released today, becomes available as a Senate committee is set to mark up a “comprehensive immigration reform” bill May 9.

“No matter how you slice it, amnesty will add a tremendous amount of pressure on America’s already strained public purse,” said Rector, Heritage’s senior research fellow in domestic policy studies.

The vast majority of the fiscal costs examined by Rector are long-term – including costs associated with Obamacare, Social Security and other entitlements, plus more than 80 means-tested welfare programs. Among Rector’s major findings:

  • Over the course of their lives, former unlawful immigrants together would receive $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services and pay $3.1 trillion in taxes, for a lifetime “fiscal deficit” – at minimum — of $6.3 trillion (total benefits minus total taxes).
  • The typical unlawful immigrant is 34 years old, has a 10th-grade education, and already receives $14,387 per household in government benefits in excess of taxes paid. After the bill’s “interim” period of 10 years, when former unlawful immigrants become eligible for welfare and Obamacare subsidies, that “fiscal deficit” would jump to $29,500 per household.
  • After amnesty, the typical unlawful immigrant will receive government benefits for 50 years, meaning his household would receive $592,000 more in government benefits during his lifetime than he would pay in taxes. At retirement, he would draw more than $3 in Social Security and Medicare for every dollar he paid in FICA taxes.

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