As Kevin wrote last night, the Heritage study released yesterday that pegs the amnesty portion in the Gang of Eight legislation to a cost of $6.3 is getting a lot of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. But the truth is, the Gang of Eight has failed to give its own estimate of what the legislation would cost taxpayers.
Over a month ago, Senators Sessions, Grassley and Roberts wrote a letter asking for the following:
According to the framework released by your group, illegal aliens would not be eligible for certain benefits during a period of probationary status. The rejection of that principle by the Democrat members of your group during a vote on an amendment to the budget raises significant concern. Moreover, even if the bill does contain strong, loophole-free language to this effect, it will only succeed in delaying—not reducing—the cost to taxpayers. In addition, a work requirement as a condition of amnesty would do little to nothing to protect taxpayers over the long term.
Once the present illegal population receives green cards, they will be eligible under current law for a wide array of federal welfare programs including food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Medicaid. By their very nature, these programs necessarily represent a net fiscal cost to taxpayers. The long-term costs, and the strain on resources for low-income Americans, could be enormous. This was contemplated by lawmakers when crafting and then reaffirming the public charge statute in 1996. These fiscal costs could grow once today’s illegal population is granted citizenship, and could include substantial costs imposed on Medicare and Social Security as low-income former illegal immigrants retire and draw benefits in excess of what they paid into those programs.
Given these concerns and our congressional oversight responsibilities, we therefore ask that you provide the following information regarding the long-term costs of your bill:
1. Please list all federal benefits, means-tested aid, and other assistance programs explicitly denied to illegal immigrants during their probationary status.
2. Please list all federal benefits and aid programs former illegal immigrants become eligible for once granted green cards, or permanent residency.
3. Please provide an estimate of the cost to taxpayers in the first full 10-year window after illegal immigrants are granted green cards and become eligible for federal assistance.
4. Please provide an estimate of the cost to taxpayers in the first full 10 years of citizenship, including the costs of chain migration.
5. Please provide an estimate of the increase in cost to our nation’s long-term unfunded obligations, including Medicare, Social Security, and Obamacare, of a pathway to citizenship for the illegal immigrant population. This should be the recognized 75-year window.
6. Please provide the specific language your legislation includes to ensure enforcement of the currently unenforced section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
7. Please provide our offices, which have the relevant expertise to analyze fiscal effects, any legislative language concerning the aforementioned questions.
These questions still remain unanswered and estimates of how much the Gang of Eight legislation will cost have not been provided by the Gang itself. Grassley, Sessions and Roberts also requested the Gang of Eight send their legislation to the Congressional Budget Office for scoring.
|Katie Pavlich is the News Editor at Townhall.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiepavlich. She is also the author of Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and the Shameless Cover-Up.
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