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April 25, 2015

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This week in the life of 2013 immigration reform

Senate bill faces 300 amendments, Heritage Foundation report finds little support


Steve Marcus

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is joined by Congressman Steven Horsford, left, and Congresswoman Dina Titus as he speaks during a May Day rally for comprehensive immigration reform in downtown Las Vegas Wednesday, May 1, 2013. The event started at the George Federal Building downtown, then marchers traveled south on Las Vegas Boulevard, finishing with a rally at St. Louis Square near the Stratosphere.

The Heritage Foundation this week released a report on the projected costs of immigration reform to U.S. taxpayers that, while met with strong rebuttal, managed to dominate much of the discussion on immigration this week.

The foundation on Monday estimated the legislation would produce a "lifetime fiscal deficit" of at least $6.3 trillion. Immigrants granted legal status from the bill would receive $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services, the report calculated, while paying only $3.1 trillion in taxes.

The report was criticized by liberals and conservatives before and after its release (the methodology was similar to a 2007 report on immigration reform), and the Heritage Foundation found itself on the defensive all week (see here and here).

The report was bashed by the likes of Republican Party chairman Haley Barbour and former Heritage Foundation economist Tim Kane. A good roundup of the conservative criticism can be found here, but the gist is: Heritage assumes little gain from the legalization of immigrants who are residing in the country illegally, including little to no upward mobility among immigrants or their children in terms of employment or education.

These assumptions do not mesh with a recent Pew Hispanic Center report indicating the Hispanic high school dropout rate is at an all-time low, and Hispanic college enrollment rate is at an all-time high, with both rates having shown gradual, steady improvement. An estimated 80 percent of all immigrants living in the country without legal status are Hispanic.

The report was released just days before the bill was before the Senate Judiciary Committee for markup, when amendments to the bill are voted up or down. There are 300 amendments offered. Senate Republicans filled the agenda with 194 amendments, and the Democrats came in with 106. Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa led the charge with 77 amendments.

On Thursday, the committee addressed 36 amendments, approving 19. A proposal by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to triple the number of Border Patrol agents and add other security measures was shot down, while amendments approved included provisions for reimbursing local law enforcement for immigration holds, increasing the number of federal judges in Southwestern border court districts and a grant program for improvements at ports of entry.

The libertarian Cato Institute, which criticized the Heritage report, published an economic study of immigration reform in late 2012 that painted a much more positive picture of the economic gains of reform.

"Comprehensive immigration reform generates an annual increase in U.S. GDP of at least 0.84 percent. This amounts to $1.5 trillion in additional GDP over 10 years. It also boosts wages for both native-born and newly legalized immigrant workers. The effects would generate a $5.3 billion increase in California, a $1.9 billion increase in Los Angeles County, and a $1.68 billion increase in Arizona," wrote Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, the study's author.

While the Heritage Foundation found mostly negatives in the 800-page Senate Bill 744, pro-reform America's Voice issued a rundown of its "highlights" and "lowlights" of the proposal.

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  1. The proposed "reform" does not even begin to address the continuing crisis: SECURE THE BORDER and stop this nonsense. We have been invaded and politicians expect American taxpayers to just sit back and PAY and pay for illegals. We must start now to protect our nation, our economy, our way of life. We must start expelling and deporting masses of illegals. If you can't show you entered legally, you are expelled without the cost and time of deportation hearings. The feds must pick up their responsibility and liability for criminal neglect and dumping the costs onto local government agencies. America has the most diverse dna on the planet and overall has no racial preferences but let's PROTECT OUR OWN before we try to provide 24/7 cradle to grave for every illegal that wanders in. Illegals are ALREADY ON WELFARE. Current proposal LETS ILLEGALS COLLECT unless they want to become citizens--and that "rule" can be changed at any time by the Secretary of Homeland Security. What a farce.

  2. Notice how the estimated cost keeps escalating? Was $3 trillion, then $4 trillion, now over $6 trillion. We need to address essential needs of CITIZENS who have worked and supported this nation and our economy for years and years INSTEAD of giving away what we do not have any more.

  3. The exact same things were said of the Irish, then the Italians, then any of the Eastern/Southern Europeans.......paddies, guineas and bohunks would never develop the intelligence to succeed, they and their broods of sub-intelligent children would be drains on society, they would never become real Americans. The Heritage Foundation document is a truly racist screed dressed up as legitimate research. More typical eugenics garbage from the ruling class.

  4. mar100 "Why don't you (Harry) show the same concern for the millions of American Citizens who are out of work, lost their homes and go to bed hungry every night???"

    Where is Dean Heller, Sherman Frederick and what are their opinions? Romney's solution was to ignore 47% of the American public and keep walking the other way. A man of God, gave sermons too, from the Book of Love and all that rot.

  5. I have no way of knowing the accuracy or lack thereof of the report.

    I do know that local published reports of graduation rates and some other metrics mentioned in the article are not good and don't seem to indicate different.

    I don't care if those who desire to emigrate here come from Sweden or Mars, Israel or Mexico, Britain or the Philippines, or any other point in the galaxy, America is a sovereign nation and should exercise its right to restrict immigration to only those who will provide for mutual benefit. While a limited degree of openness and charity may be affordable and just, no unlimited, poorly regulated and unenforced system of immigration like the one we have now can possibly be good for the future of the country. There comes a time when personal responsibility comes with a price and consequences.

    Our elected leaders have a sworn duty to the US Constitution and to secure the best for our citizens. That does not include taking personal resources by force to in effect create a welfare state in order to feel benevolent beyond our means and to the detriment of our nation.

  6. It is readily apparent that only Democrats were present at this rally in Las Vegas. I hate to say it, but this is not only a Las Vegas thing. It's not even an entirely Nevada thing. It's national.

    You really don't have to look too hard to see that the Tea/Republican Party is at war with itself.

    I really really hate to say it, but it is without a doubt that the Tea/Republican Party, whether they collectively want this to happen or not, will axe any type of comprehensive immigration reform.

    Why? Because they are so dogmatic with their hatred for President Obama and his entire administration that they let the rabble dictate what is to happen. There is NO moderation left in the Tea/Republican Party. The Tea Party parasite is now complete. They have taken over.

    If this does happen, and it is indeed the case, which I believe, along with their complete debacle of blowing it with a common sense gun control legislation dealing with background checks, especially after a majority of Americans wanted it...there is no alternative but for us to stand back and watch the complete obliteration of that political party. Not by our hand. But by theirs.

    The Tea/Republican Party is reeling like drunken Sailors right now. They don't have a purpose anymore. Except to throw monkey wrenches in the gears of U.S. Government.

    And the American people don't like it.

    You will face our wrath in the next few elections.

    I am personally mad about how Speaker Boehner rammed through a vote where America needs to pay the Peoples Republic of China. And that has more importance than paying us retired military veterans. According to Boehner, they are paid first. Not us.

    According to Boehner and his howling mob of Tea/Republican Party majority in the House of Representatives, we are not important. Only when we are overseas on battlefields at the tip of the spear are we important. When we come back, some in pieces and in need of help, he has rejected our worth.

    This makes Boehner more than despicable in my book.

    And this is why I am committed to not only voting against Tea/Republican Party candidates, but also I am resolute that I want to DESTROY the Tea/Republican Party.

    Because according to them, as a retired military veteran, I am worthless. I am only a political tool to be used by them. But when I come back to America? Meh. They could care less. They consider me a burden. I suck up taxpayers' dollars.

    Again, I am committed to nothing less than the utter destruction of the modern day over reaching radical and extreme Tea/Republican Party. I will never ever vote for any of them. And I encourage everyone else to do the same.

    They have blown it taking care of veterans.

    They have blown it with common sense gun control background checks.

    They WILL blow it with comprehensive immigration reform.

    This makes them persona non grata as a political party. Fini. Kaput. Done for.

  7. Roslenda is all freaked out by those brown people coming up from Mexico. Meanwhile someone should remind her how the 9/11 hijackers got here.