The coalition of leftists, big labor, big business, and big GOP consultants who are pushing this immigration bill, which is antithetical to reform, are terrified of the upcoming cost study from the Heritage Foundation. That’s why Marco Rubio is asking them to employ “dynamic scoring.” In the minds of his supporters, we should focus on the alleged benefits from the bill with regards to the labor market, which presumably will occur immediately, as opposed to the costs which will occur after 10 years.
The first thing we need to understand is that the children of the amnesty beneficiaries will affect the welfare costs well within the 10-year budget frame.
At present, our legal system operates under the false notion that the 14th Amendment guarantees citizenship for any child born here from someone who entered illegally. If someone runs over the border and drops a baby, that baby is a citizen. If the individual comes in on a tourist visa and drops a baby, that baby is a citizen. This has created the allure of anchor babies, and serves as a huge magnet for illegal immigration.
Although illegals are officially not entitled to collect welfare benefits (though they can get refundable tax credits or steal social security numbers), they can and do collect welfare on behalf of their American-born children. What the Gang of 8 essentially does is turn millions more people into anchor babies. Their iteration of the Dream Act (Sec. 2103, page 110) would grant full citizenship to anyone who came here before 16 after just 5 years, irrespective of the fulfillment of their ambiguous enforcement goals. Unlike previous versions of the Dream Act, there is no maximum age limit of 30. Hence, a whole lot of people will be eligible for the entire litany of programs in short order, and in the case of those who are still dependents, they will be able to secure benefits on behalf of their parents.
Additionally, as part of the ‘no illegal left behind’ provision of the bill, even those illegals who were deported but are otherwise eligible for the Dream Act (or regular RPI status along a different track), are invited back into the country to accept citizenship in 5 years along with their immediate family members. There will be a number of aggressive lawyers chomping at the bit to litigate every last one into the legal status. Add on the fact that states will now be precluded from barring them from instate tuition, it is stupefying how insouciant some Republicans are to the cost of the Dream Act.
With that in mind, think about the children of the hundreds of thousands of temporary guest workers, who will never be temporary because the visa tracking system is not required to be implemented for 10 years (not that it will be implemented then either). The expressed purpose of the open-borders lobby, at least on the Republican side, is to bring in cheap labor. Well, when you pay people who have American-born children slave wages, they will be able to collect all those benefits – immediately.
Yup, you can’t forget about the children.
With regards to the benefits to the labor market, that’s a tough thing to score based on the way the bill is written. Again, to the extent that it’s a good thing to bring in so many new illegal and legal immigrants who will depress wages, this bill won’t allow us to reap those “benefits.” It sets up a wage-setting agency to regulate the wages of those low-skilled guest workers who come in on the newly issued W visas. They also have numerous restrictions on employers of H1-B high skilled workers, penalizing them for employing too many of them and setting wage restrictions.
To the extent that there are some real benefits, they are either in quirky ways or in areas that there is already broad consensus to reform. There is broad consensus to eliminate the diversity visa lottery and move towards a merit-based system, which would greatly benefit our economy. However, this bill retains a parallel track for those already in line, in which there is no cap based on points. It essentially increases all areas of immigration across the board. Why not pass piecemeal legislation just on the beneficial aspects of the bill?
Here’s another dynamic scoring idea that would spawn economic growth, but in a perverse way. Ironically, in an attempt to show that the amnestied illegals will not receive obamacare benefits, they are creating another problem – tilting the labor force towards the amnestied aliens. Employers must provide health coverage for all full-time employees or contribute $3,000 towards government coverage for that individual. Given that the RPIs will be excluded from the program, employers will be exempt. They will have a $3,000 incentive to hire those individuals over everyone else. That might help grow the economy in some sense, but do we really want to encourage that type of tendentious treatment to the detriment of legal immigrants?
The bottom line is that when you look at the broader costs of the bill you will find that they are even more detrimental for the country. The only real beneficial components of the bill are those that swap out low-skilled immigration for high-skilled immigration – to the extent that those provisions will ultimately accomplish that goal.
If you want immigration reform that will benefit the economy, start with piecemeal bills that have broad consensus.