The Cost of Immigration Reform

Posted: May 05, 2013 1:14 PM
The Cost of Immigration Reform

On ABC's This Week, Heritage Foundation President and former South Carolina Senator Jim DemMint previewed a Heritage study of the Gang of Eight's "comprehensive immigration reform" bill, saying that the bill might cost "trillions."

“The study you’ll see from Heritage this week presents a staggering cost of another amnesty in our country,” DeMint said this morning on “This Week,” based on the “detrimental effects long-term” of government benefits that would eventually go to the millions offered a path to citizenship under the reform legislation 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. It will cost Americans trillions of dollars. It’ll make our unlawful immigration system worse.”

But, as ABC News notes, the Heritage economic modeling approach to immigration reform is not without its critics:

The 2007 [Heritage] study is not without its critics, such as 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.”

The immigration reform bill will continue to go through other iterations as it gets analyzed, criticized and amended. Sen. Marco Rubio, the most prominent Republican member of the Gang of Eight, said recently that the legislation has "shortcomings" and that he welcomed the amendment process.

"Public scrutiny has helped identify shortcomings and unintended consequences that need to be addressed," he wrote.

He mentioned a strengthening of border security issues and the cost of immigration to American taxpayers, saying a review of the bill offers the opportunity to make appropriate changes.

Conservatives will need to keep a close eye on the amendment process. The Gang of Eight legislation is already causing sharp divisions among conservatives on Capitol Hill and the devil will be in the details when it comes to conservative support for the final bill.

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