Robert Rector, a senior research fellow with the Heritage Foundation, expects the bipartisan immigration reform proposal, which includes a path to citizenship, will end up costing taxpayers more overtime than the trillion-dollar calculations he testified to during debate over the 2007 immigration reform bill.
“[The proposal] seems to be virtually identical to the 2007 bill and would be extremely costly to the U.S. taxpayers,” Rector told The Daily Caller in a Wednesday interview. “Granting amnesty or legal status to illegals will generate costs in Medicare and Social Security alone of $2.5 trillion above any taxes paid in.”
According to Rector, the majority of the undocumented immigrants who would eventually be legalized by the legislation are largely uneducated, and therefore more likely to be dependent on government assistance. Fifty to 60 percent of the new immigrants are high school dropouts, and 75-80 percent have no more than a high school degree.
“It’s not like they pay in a lot when they are young, and they take it out when they’re old. They are in fiscal deficit every year of their lives,” Rector explained. “For example, the typical household headed by someone who does not have a high school degree, as I said in that paper in 2007, got back then $30,000 in benefits and paid $10,000 [in income and consumption taxes]. It’s a net cost of $20,000. That would be significantly higher now.”
Rector’s numbers, he noted, were from 2007, which means that now the cost will higher due to the increase in benefits programs and number of undocumented.
“We don’t know how many there are,” Rector said of the 11 million undocumented immigrant figure. “You can say all these costs will be significantly higher in this bill than in the 2007 bill.”
Rector added that he is currently working on a follow up paper to bring the 2007 numbers up to date.
“Basically, the figures from 2007 are just under counts now,” he said. “Everything now has gotten more expensive. Obamacare increases the costs considerably. One of the tricks is they will do things like say, ‘They will contribute to the Social Security Trust Fund.’ Well, you can’t compartmentalize these costs that way, because it doesn’t do the taxpayer any good if they contribute to the Social Security tax fund $2,000, but they take $20,000 out of general revenue. Right?”
“They will put a little money into the Social Security Trust Fund in the long term, but also in the short term, they’re taking $30,000 annually per household in government benefits and services, most which they don’t pay for,” he added.
Rector warned that people should remember the lack of border and employer enforcement that followed the 1986 amnesty.
“They almost all came here after the last amnesty, and almost all have been employed here because we did not enforce the law we put on the books in 1986,” Rector said. “There is no actual effort to prevent employers from hiring illegals. Ostensibly, we’re going to do that, but they didn’t do it last time. All administrations have basically turned a blind eye to the hiring of illegals, and we’re to somehow pretend that won’t happen in the future.”
“Everything I said in the past — you can use those numbers,” he concluded. “They’re just worse now.”