Immigration advocates slam pending Heritage cost estimate

Advocates for mass immigration are preemptively slamming an unreleased study by the Heritage Foundation that is expected to highlight the massive long-terms cost of the Senate’s draft immigration and guest-worker bill.

A similar Heritage report helped spur the public protests that sank the 2007 reform bill, say advocates of the pending immigration rewrite.

“It had quite a big effect on the debate at the time,” said Alex Nowrasteh, the immigration advocate at the libertarian Cato Institute. “The indications are that they’re going to release a study similar to that … and I want to get a headstart” in countering it, he told The Daily Caller.

Officials at the Center for American Progress are also dumping on the report prior to its release.

The Heritage report will likely exclude the taxes paid by immigrants, complained Adriana Kugler, a professor at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute. “That’s very troublesome,” she said at a March event held by CAP.

In 2007, Heritage report helped derail the 2007 push for large-scale immigration by giving the public an easy-to-understand $2.6 trillion estimate of the bill’s likely long-term costs.

The foundation reported the 2007 legislation would annually cost Americans $17,000 in retirement funds for every unskilled immigrant given amnesty. The total cost for the bill would reach $2.6 trillion, it estimated, largely because unskilled workers consume far more during retirement than they generate in taxes.

A Heritage staffer told TheDC that the group’s demographic expert, Robert Rector, is completing the 2013 report.

Heritage’s new head, former Sen. Jim DeMint, is expected to use Rector’s report to campaign against the pending immigration bill.

“The comment of Heritage always matter when it comes to policy debates,” Nowrasteh said.

Heritage’s open opposition to the bill will mark a clear breach between Heritage’s alliance of establishment and tea party conservatives, and pro-immigration alliance of business executives and business-backed GOP politicians.

Those politicians include South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jeff Flake.

Heritage’s opposition will also increase the political pressure on Sen. Marco Rubio, who is widely expected to use his role in writing the bill to help position himself for the 2016 presidential election.

He is using the immigration bill to boost his support among the media and business donors, and among non-political swing voters. But he is also trying to preserve his prior support among GOP conservatives.