The Senate bill authorizes 4,000 new Border Patrol agents, but doesn't require that they be trained or deployed. It's difficult to hire and keep Border Patrol agents because of the way some have been prosecuted and sentenced to long prison terms after intercepting professional drug smugglers bringing in vans of illegal drugs.
Another bench mark is that "tools" will be provided to prevent illegal immigrants from getting jobs, including requirements for identification standards and an employee verification system. But the bill lacks a requirement that anybody actually use the tools.
The costs of the Senate immigration bill are mind-boggling, and the Senate has made no attempt to estimate or figure out how to pay them. The Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector puts a potential price tag on this bill of $2.5 trillion, which is five times the cost of the Iraq war.
Rector gave the House Judiciary Committee detailed testimony setting forth how he arrived at this figure. At least 60 percent of illegal immigrants lack a high school diploma, which means they will work low-wage jobs, pay little or no income tax, and be heavy users of our schools and means-tested social benefits such as Medicaid, school lunches, Women, Infants and Children Program, subsidized housing, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and free legal counsel.
Fiscal costs would go up dramatically after amnesty recipients reach retirement. Each elderly low-skill immigrant imposes a net cost - that is benefits minus taxes - on U.S. taxpayers of about $17,000 per year, according to the Heritage Foundation. These costs would hit Social Security and Medicare at the very time Social Security is expected to go into crisis.
Section 413 calls on Congress to "accelerate the implementation" of the Security and Prosperity Partnership - announced by Bush in Waco, Texas, in 2005 - so that the United States can "improve the standard of living in Mexico." Do U.S. taxpayers want to take on the awesome economic burden of solving poverty problems in Mexico?
The Senate immigration bill states that the United States want to increase access to credit for "poor and under-served populations in Mexico," and expand efforts "to reduce the transaction costs of remittance flows" from the U.S. to Mexico now running at $23 billion a year.
The Senate bill also puts the United States into a "partnership" with Mexico for "increasing health care access for poor and under-served populations in Mexico," for "assisting Mexico in increasing its emergency and trauma health care facilities," and for "expanding prenatal care" in the border region. It looks like the Heritage Foundation and Rector's estimates are only the start of the costs that will put a truly incredible burden on American taxpayers.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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