The cost of amnesty: $999 billion.
The cost of attrition by enforcement: as little as $14 billion.
Amnesty would cost up to 70 times as much as enforcing existing law.
$999 billion cost of Amnesty (Mass Legalization)
$14 billion cost of attrition through enforcement option #1.
$177 billion cost of attrition through enforcement option #2.
Amnesty Would Have a Present Cost of $1 Trillion
In 2007, the Heritage Foundation issued two studies, one on the cost of low-skilled immigration and one on the cost of amnesty. The study on the cost of low-skilled immigration noted that low-skilled immigrants do work hard: “It is important to note, these families are rarely idle; they consistently work and pay taxes. However, the taxes they pay are seldom, if ever, sufficient to cover the cost of the government benefits they receive. In consequence, these households must be continually subsidized by other taxpayers.” The Heritage study concluded that low-skilled immigrant households will cost native born U.S. taxpayers $89.1 billion per year over each of the next 30 years.
The Heritage report estimated that illegal residents comprise 41 percent of low-skilled immigrant households.1 Simple multiplication indicates that illegal-immigrant households cost the U.S. taxpayer $36.5 billion each year. Over 30 years, that works out to $1.1 trillion in costs. Using a financial calculator, we assumed a discount rate of 5 percent, and computed the net present value of a cost stream of $36.5 over the next 30 years to be $589 billion.
Cost to Taxpayer for Government Benefits to Illegal Aliens:
|Years||Cost Each Year||Total Cost||Present Cost @ 5% discount rate|
|2007-2037||$36.5 billion||$1.1 trillion||$589 billion|
|2038-2056||$144.5 billion||$2.6 trillion||$410 billion|
A second report was issued by the Heritage Foundation a few weeks after the report discussed above. This report discussed the costs allowing current illegal aliens to become United States citizens. They will become eligible for the full array of welfare and medical benefits offered by state and federal governments. This study concluded that the $36.5 billion per year figure is valid for the next 30 years. The average age of an illegal alien is early 30s. Beginning 30 years from now, the current illegal alien population will retire. The problem is that low-skilled illegal aliens do not earn enough money to support their families, send remittances back to their homelands, and save adequate money for retirement. The U.S. taxpayer will be stuck supporting most illegal aliens in retirement. And each retired illegal alien is projected to cost the U.S. taxpayer $17,000 per year.
The Heritage report continues, that of the 10 million retired illegal aliens, some 8.5 million will live to the retirement age of 67 years old. At that time, the statistically normal lifespan is an additional 18 years. $17,000 per year for 18 years is $306,000. That is the cost of supporting one amnestied illegal alien through retirement. Multiplied by 8.5 million people, and that comes to the astounding figure of $2.6 trillion.2 Using a financial calculator, we assumed a discount rate of 5 percent and computed the net present value of a cost stream of $144.5 billion per year for 18 years from the years 2039-2057. The net present cost was given as $410 billion.
Attrition Through Enforcement Would Have a Present Cost of as Little at $13.5 Billion
H.R. 4437, The “Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005,” had Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner as its original sponsor. This bill had several features to combat illegal immigration including:
This was the bill to which Sensenbrenner offered an amendment to reduce the penalty for illegal presence (aimed at visa overstayers) from a felony to a misdemeanor (Amendment 656, Roll Call Vote 655).3 However, all but 8 Democrats voted against the amendment (in other words, they voted for upgrading illegal presence to a felony) because they wanted to use the provision as a rallying point from which to stir up opposition to the bill.
The passage of this bill attracted a firestorm of opposition from the open borders lobby, including illegal alien demonstrations in a number of cities on May 1, 2006.
The illegal alien lobby was opposed to this bill because it would have been effective. This is why we can safely conclude that effective attrition through enforcement would cost as little as $13.5 billion.4
Strong Attrition Through Enforcement Would Have a Present Cost of $177 Billion
The SAVE Act (Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement) Act was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on November 6, 2007. It never made it to a vote because the House leadership would not allow it. Among the key provisions of the bill were:
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would cost $40.7 billion over the 10 years between 2009-2018.5
1Robert E. Rector and Christine Kim, The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Immigrants to the U.S. Taxpayer, Special Report #14, May 22, 2007, The Heritage Foundation.
2Robert E. Rector, Amnesty Will Cost U.S. Taxpayers At Least $2.6 Trillion, Web Memo #1490, June 6, 2007, The Heritage Foundation.
3See The Congressional Record – House – December 16, 2005, H11951-11953.