- Once again, the American taxpayer faces ominous costs
if Congress passes an amnesty for 20 million Americans. Here are the figures.
Here is what you can do about it.
- Mr. Roy Beck, director of www.NumbersUSA.org , took several
agencies to task as to the cost of legalizing 12-20 million illegal citizens
from other countries. Below, you may discover the figures in detail.
- The cost of attrition by enforcement: as little as $14
- Amnesty would cost up to 70 times as much as enforcing
- $999 billion cost of Amnesty (Mass Legalization)
- Beck found the research at: The Heritage Foundation
- Summary: The Heritage Foundation issued two studies in
2007 pointing out that the big problem with mass legalization is that (a)
most illegal aliens are low-skilled and therefore do not earn enough money
to pay enough taxes to cover the government benefits they receive; and
(b), amnesty would eventually make them eligible for the full array of
welfare and medical benefits offered by local, state and federal governments.
They found the cost of allowing illegal aliens to remain in the United
States, and eventually to become citizens, would be $3.7 trillion through
the year 2056. That works out to a present cost of $1 trillion, at a 5
percent discount rate. In other words, immediately upon passage of an amnesty
bill, the United States government would need to put $1 trillion into an
investment earning 5 percent per year if it were honest about paying for
the costs of amnesty.
- $14 billion cost of attrition through enforcement option
- Source: Congressional Budget office Estimate for H.R.
- Summary: This option is the bill H.R. 4437 sponsored
by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner that passed the House of Representatives in 2005.
This bill would have been so effective in combating illegal immigration
that some 1 million illegal aliens marched in cities around the United
States on May 1, 2006 to protest it. The Congressional Budget Office estimated
the bill would cost $1.9 billion over the 5 years 2006-2010, which we extrapolate
out to the year 2056 using a linear model to account for cost increases.
Then we use a discount rate of 5 percent to bring the future costs back
to a single present cost figure. The resulting cost was actually $13.5
billion, which we round up to $14 billion to facilitate comparison to the
other cost figures.
- $177 billion cost of attrition through enforcement option
- Source: Congressional Budget Office Estimate for H.R.
- Summary: This option is the SAVE Act (Secure America
Through Verification and Enforcement Act) that was introduced in the House
of Representatives in 2007. This is a strong attrition through enforcement
bill. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill would cost $40.7
billion over the 10 years 2009-2018, which we extrapolate out to the year
2056 using a linear model to account for cost increases. Then we use a
discount rate of 5 percent to bring the future costs back to a single present
- Detailed Explanation:
- 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:
- Cost Each Year
- Total Cost
- Present Cost @ 5% discount rate
- $36.5 billion
- $1.1 trillion
- $589 billion
- $144.5 billion
- $2.6 trillion
- $410 billion
- $999 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
- 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
- mandatory E-Verify 6 years from date of enactment
- end the "catch-and-release" policy for all
persons apprehended at border
- require DHS to reimburse counties within 25 miles of
the border for the costs relating to illegal aliens
- removal orders would become final more quickly and readily
- facilitate removal of aliens who reenter the country
illegally after having been deported
- mandatory minimum prison sentences for offenses related
to illegal entry into the United States
- additional port-of-entry inspectors and canine detection
- 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
- 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:
- mandatory E-Verify 4 years from the date of enactment;
- increased employer sanctions for those knowingly employing
- a "National Birth and Death Registration System"
to reduce stolen identities;
- 140 additional Criminal Alien Program (CAP) officers
to identify and remove criminal aliens detained in federal, state and local
- training at least 250 state and local law enforcement
officers on how to perform federal immigration enforcement procedures;
- 8,000 additional beds for illegal aliens detained by
- 13 additional federal district judges in border states
to increase the flow of deportations, including 4 for the District of Arizona
and 5 for the Southern District of California;
- The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill
would cost $40.7 billion over the 10 years between 2009-2018.5
- What can you do to make certain that Congress does not
pass a mass amnesty? What can you do to make sure illegal aliens peacefully
and on their own dime, return to their own countries? Please join www.NumbersUSA.org
and become a faxer of pre written letters that will move your Congress
critters to take action on your behalf and not the open borders lobbies.
You can also make phone calls as guided by NumbersUSA.org. Additionally,
you may join www.FAIRUS.org , www.capsweb.org , www.alipac.org , www.grassfire.com
- 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.
- 4The CBO report can be found by searching www.cbo.gov
for H.R. 4437.
- 5The CBO report can be found by searching www.cbo.gov
for H.R. 4088