Amnesty & the Bankrupting of America By Arnold Ahlert

Can the country afford $6.3 trillion for yet another mass legalization program?

A report released by the conservative Heritage Foundation threatens to blow a big hole in the so-called Gang of Eight’s attempt to implement comprehensive immigration reform. An analysis of the costs associated with granting amnesty to 11 million illegal aliens is staggering: according to the report, taxpayers would be forced to shell out $6.3 trillion, even when the 10-year barrier preventing newly legalized individuals from seeking government benefits is factored into the equation. “No matter how you slice it, amnesty will add a tremendous amount of pressure on America’s already strained public purse,” Robert Rector, the Heritage scholar who prepared the report, said in a statement.

The study focuses on four types of government benefits considered relevant to the issue. These include “Direct Benefits,” such as Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation; “Means-tested Welfare Benefits” such as Medicaid, food stamps, the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit, public housing, Supplemental Security Income, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; “Public Education,” which is subsidized for low-income families; and “Population-based Services” that include police, fire, highways, parks, and similar services, that must be expanded when the population of a community increases.

Heritage directly challenges some of the popular canards surrounding the debate, most notably the idea that illegals are a “net plus” for America’s economy. The report explains that in our “highly-redistributive” system of government “net tax contributors,” who pay more in taxes than they receive in government services, have higher levels of education. “For example, in 2010, in the whole U.S. population, households with college-educated heads, on average, received $24,839 in government benefits while paying $54,089 in taxes. The average college-educated household thus generated a fiscal surplus of $29,250 that government used to finance benefits for other households,” the report explains.

On the other hand, households with lower education levels tend to be “net tax consumers,” who use more government services than they pay for. “For example, in 2010, in the U.S. population as a whole, households headed by persons without a high school degree, on average, received $46,582 in government benefits while paying only $11,469 in taxes. This generated an average fiscal deficit (benefits received minus taxes paid) of $35,113,” says the report.

The report reveals the educational levels of illegals, noting that “the typical unlawful immigrant has only a 10th-grade education,” that 50 percent of illegal households “are headed by an individual with less than a high school degree,” and another “25 percent of household heads have only a high school degree.” As a result, Heritage reveals that in 2010, illegal aliens “received around $24,721 in government benefits and services while paying some $10,334 in taxes,” amounting to an annual fiscal deficit of “$14,387 per household.”

Taxpayers make up the difference. However, if an additional 11 million illegals are added to the system and they become fully integrated after the current waiting period of 13 years — the current version of the bill proposes 10 years for a green card, plus three more years to acquire full citizenship — the fiscal deficit for each immigrant household “would soar.”

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