Politics
Alma Banuelos, left, with Emilia Hernandez  shout slogans during a rally in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday, May 1, 2013. In celebration of May Day thousands have gathered for an immigration reform rally in downtown Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Immigration rivals agree; Senate bill will legalize more than 30 million migrants

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

The Center for American Progress says the Senate’s pending immigration bill will help legalize 32.5 million migrants over the next 10 years.

The estimate is only slightly less than the initial 33.5 million estimate prepared by NumbersUSA, which opposes the bill.

Both groups produced similar estimates, but couched them very differently, for very different political purposes.

The NumbersUSA group said their estimates were cautious, while the Center for American Progress (CAP) group said their April 30 study shows the Senate bill will actually reduce the current inflow of immigrants.

Their similar estimates match the May 3 prediction of a 32.7 million inflow offered by Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate’s banking committee, and a leading opponent of the bill.

In his statement, Sessions also highlighted the additional inflow of 25 million short-term and long-term agricultural, blue collar and professional workers over the next decade. Sessions has repeatedly said the inflow of 57 million immigrants and guest-workers will damage the wages and job prospects of Americans.

Sessions also predicted the inflow would be high because the new immigrants will use the bill’s family unification provisions to quickly bring in their relatives.

“The Gang of Eight’s bill will drastically increase low-skill chain migration,” said his statement. For example, amnestied agricultural workers and younger illegals will bring in an extra 3 million people within 10 years, said Sessions’ estimate.

However, an e-mail to the Powerline blog from a staffer for Sen. Marco Rubio’s office disputed the predictions of a 30-million inflow.

“Your 30 million number is simply not accurate,” said the unattributed email.

“There are approximately 11 million illegals currently in the US, and many of them won’t be eligible for legalization (because they haven’t been here long enough, don’t pass background checks, can’t afford the fines, etc.) and will have to be deported,” said the email.

“Those given legal status will not be able to use chain migration or anything else to bring family members into the US,” the email claimed.

That statement is partly accurate. Under the bill, roughly 8.5 million illegals won’t be able to bring in relatives until after they get legal permanent residency in 10 years, or until they get citizenship 13 years later. But roughly 2.5 million younger illegals, dubbed ‘Dreamers,’ will be able to seek an visas for their foreign family members in only five years.

There is little evidence that ineligible illegal aliens will be deported.

Currently, the U.S. population is 311 million. Population growth is powered by an annual inflow of 1 million immigrants, and by the birth of 4 million Americans minus the routine deaths of roughly 3 million Americans.

The CAP and NumbersUSA estimates are similar, despite a series of very different assumptions and portrayals that reflect very different political priorities.

NumbersUSA wants to reduce current inflow, and offers cautious numbers to counter push-back from progressives and the media.

For example, its 32.5 million estimate does not estimate how many people will use a series of proposed uncapped channels for some types of workers and ignores the possible role of fraud.

In contrast, CAP is a progressive group closely aligned with the White House. It supports the pending Senate immigration bill, and it has an incentive to minimize the reported inflow of immigrants.