Immigration Reform Too Expensive? Worry About The Welfare State!

Sometimes I don’t understand media conservatives at all. So, if the hype it so be believed, we are at the brink of offering “amnesty” over 11 million illegal immigrants. The Heritage Foundation has come out with an estimate about how much this will cost us. According to the Fox News headline: “Study pegs cost of immigration bill’s mass legalization at $6.3 trillion.”

Here is the basic paragraph from the study’s executive summary:

“Over a lifetime, the former unlawful immigrants together would receive $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services and pay $3.1 trillion in taxes. They would generate a lifetime fiscal deficit (total benefits minus total taxes) of $6.3 trillion. (All figures are in constant 2010 dollars.) This should be considered a minimum estimate. It probably understates real future costs because it undercounts the number of unlawful immigrants and dependents who will actually receive amnesty and underestimates significantly the future growth in welfare and medical benefits.”

This is supposed to cause us all to panic over the prospect of immigration reform and “amnesty.”

Yes, it makes me think that rushing to “amnesty” is really stupid, short-sighted, and foolish. But my real fear is directed elsewhere. Forget about immigration, our real national death-threat is the welfare state. If eleven million poor people can actually cost over six trillion dollars we need to realize that we are at the edge of complete disaster with American natural-born citizens. Conservatives who believe these calculations are accurate should be hyperventilating with fear and panic over the way our finances are about to self-destruct.

Notice some claims in the executive summary:

“Many conservatives believe that if an individual has a job and works hard, he will inevitably be a net tax contributor (paying more in taxes than he takes in benefits). In our society, this has not been true for a very long time. Similarly, many believe that unlawful immigrants work more than other groups. This is also not true. The employment rate for non-elderly adult unlawful immigrants is about the same as it is for the general population. Many policymakers also believe that because unlawful immigrants are comparatively young, they will help relieve the fiscal strains of an aging society. Regrettably, this is not true. At every stage of the life cycle, unlawful immigrants, on average, generate fiscal deficits (benefits exceed taxes). Unlawful immigrants, on average, are always tax consumers; they never once generate a “fiscal surplus” that can be used to pay for government benefits elsewhere in society. This situation obviously will get much worse after amnesty.”

Do you see what this study is telling us about United States citizens? We are facing a demographic winter and no immigration from south of the border can save us. Immigrants can’t improve our employment rate because they are just as bad as us citizens!  Legalized immigrants will not be net tax contributors because none of us are tax contributors. We are all doomed, with or without immigrants, to go ever deeper in debt until it all implodes.

This isn’t about immigration; it is about the demise and fall of the United States with or without immigration. Amnesty may be a bad idea because it speeds up the time clock, but it is all inevitable in our present political climate.

The fact that such data can be collected as if it only applied to legalizing immigrants is itself a sign that we are doomed.