Want Deficit Reduction? Then Immigration Reform Will Help

Washington, D.C. – There may some initial costs that accompany immigration reform, but in the long run the legislation will actually help reduce the national deficit, a new report by the Congressional Business Office found. This may give some pro-immigration reform Republicans leverage when trying to convince others in their party to approve the legislation, which is currently suffering numerous setbacks and looks as though it will be blocked by the House.

The CBO report states that should the immigration reform legislation be enacted, the federal deficit would increase by $262 billion over the next decade, mostly attributed to medical care costs associated with Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, USA Today reported. This is a large amount to add to the deficit, but it would be offset by revenue generated through higher income and pay roll taxes. The CBO estimates that taxes alone will generate $700 billion over the same time period.

Charles Schuman, member of the “Gang of Eight,” said  that the CBO report, “huge momentum boost for immigration reform.”

In the entire immigration reform debate, border security has been a sticking point, with Republicans increasingly calling for tougher border controls. The border security enhancement provision added to reform  legislation, which was approved by Congress, last week, will cost approximately $4.5 billion, but the CBO estimates that those controls would only reduce illegal immigration by 25 percent, not a great return on investment.

Another caveat of immigration reform legislation is the fact that the CBO found it could suppress worker wages .01 percent in the first ten years of enactment, but in the following decade it would help wages grow by .05 percent.

This is the part of the report that Republican Senator Jeff Sessions or Alabama latched onto, “The CBO report is explicit – under this legislation, if it were to pass, the wages of American workers will fall,” Sessions said on the Senate floor. “That alone should cause us to defeat this bill.”

This report flies in the face of a recent reported by the conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, which advocates for low-immigration numbers. According to their controversial report released in May, the Heritage Foundation states that reform legislation would cost $6.3 trillion, mostly coming from social programs like Medicare, food stamps, Welfare and public education.

The Heritage Foundation’s May report was an amended version of one they released in 2007, the last time Congress debated immigration report. In the initial report, they estimated that reform would cost $2.6 billion. Many Republicans decried the report stating it was deeply flawed and did not take into account the additional revenue that would be generated by legal immigration.

If the immigration bill passes, the CBO estimates that 8 million of the 11 million undocumented immigrants will be eligible to apply for green cards or provisional legal status.

The future of the bill remains in flux and though it is still being debated on the Senate floor, there are some believe that reform legislation won’t make it through the House.