On Immigration Legislation, Fissures Emerge Within Conservative Ranks

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lb0423cd20130422085302“It’s clear a number of people in Washington who might benefit from amnesty, as well as a number of people in Congress, do not want to consider the costs,” DeMint said during a news conference at which he unveiled the Heritage analysis.

On Tuesday, the congressional Joint Economic Committee will open a two-day hearing on the economic consequences of the legislation.



Delivering his weekly address from Mexico, where he traveled as part of a three day swing through Latin America, President Obama said there is "no reason" Congress can't pass the "common sense" immigration reform bill.

Delivering his weekly address from Mexico, where he traveled as part of a three day swing through Latin America, President Obama said there is “no reason” Congress can’t pass the “common sense” immigration reform bill.

In their analysis, Heritage economists Robert Rector and Jason Richwine argued that illegal immigrants, who could gain citizenship after 13 years under the Senate plan, would pay $3.1 trillion in taxes but receive $9.4 trillion in government benefits in their lifetimes, including Social Security, Medicare, housing and education.

But critics of the Heritage Foundation’s methodology said it failed to account for social mobility among Hispanics. The price tag estimated in the study also includes the costs of educating and providing services to immigrants’ U.S.-born children, but as citizens they are entitled to those benefits regardless of whether the bill passes Congress.

“Here we go again. New Heritage study claims huge cost for Immigration Reform. Ignores economic benefits. No dynamic scoring,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a bill co-sponsor, wrote Monday on Twitter.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, an economist for the American Action Forum, has said that the immigration overhaul proposal could boost gross domestic product growth by a percentage point each year over the next decade. Holtz-Eakin called the Heritage study “a narrow, incomplete look at the immigration reform issue.”

The bipartisan Senate group has pledged that the legislation would be “deficit-neutral,” and members have said that they will amend the bill if the Congressional Budget Office were to ascribe a net cost to it. The senators have emphasized that illegal immigrants will be required to pay at least $2,000 in fees and some back taxes before earning legal status, money that could help pay for other provisions in the bill, such as increases to border security investments.


Aaron Blake and Jim Tankersley contributed to this report.

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