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The Long-Term Costs of Immigration Reform


The Heritage Foundation’s estimate of the total costs associated with legalizing the current population of illegal immigrants (about $6.3 trillion over the next several decades) has drawn a fair amount of criticism from across the political spectrum. In particular, critics argue that any analysis of the cost of immigration reform should include “dynamic scoring” to take into account additional factors such as increased economic growth. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has agreed to evaluate the Gang of Eight’s legislation using a version of this method.

However, as Philip Klein points out, CBO only calculates costs within a ten-year budget window, regardless of the method it uses. And given that, under the Gang’s proposal, most illegal immigrants would have to wait 13 years to acheive citizenship, at which point they would become eligible for federal welfare and medical benefits, any worthwhile analysis should consider the long-term costs associated with potentially millions of newly legalized immigrants claiming such benefits. A group of Republican senators — Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), and Pat Roberts (Kan.) – wrote their GOP colleauges in the Gang of Eight on April 10 to request an analysis of their bill’s “long-term cost for taxpayers,” but have yet to receive a response. 


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