Amnesty for the 'best and brightest' will still cost taxpayers

Amnesty for the 'best and brightest' will still cost taxpayers
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An effort by open borders groups to secure amnesty for as many as 3.4 million illegal aliens who entered the United States as minors by holding up the passage of legislation to continue funding the federal government looks like it will end in failure. Even many Democrats were wary of this tactic and, ultimately, the normally timid Republican congressional leadership called their bluff.

The ill-fated effort to hold the federal government hostage, however, did produce a result that amnesty advocates weren’t expecting and cannot be happy about. Their power play led the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to take a look at the fiscal implications of enactment of the DREAM Act amnesty — the ransom that the Democratic leadership was demanding as the price for approving the spending bill.

What the CBO found was not encouraging for proponents of the DREAM Act and downright disastrous to their broader goal of obtaining amnesty for an estimated 12-15 million people living illegally in the United States. Beneficiaries of the DREAM Act are described glowingly by their advocates and many in the media as the best and brightest who, if their full potential could be tapped, would enrich the nation and its treasury.


Not really.


According the CBO’s analysis, granting amnesty to the “best and the brightest” of the illegal alien population would represent an additional expense to the taxpayers who are already bearing a $135 billion annual burden as a result of large-scale illegal immigration. Rather than enriching our country, the CBO concluded that enactment of the DREAM Act would add nearly $27 billion to the deficit over the first decade, based on an assumption that just two million people would gain amnesty under the legislation.

The DREAM Act would enable beneficiaries to live and work legally in the United States and, presumably pay taxes on their incomes. But it would also entitle these beneficiaries to access numerous government programs and services — some immediately, and others down the road after they have obtained citizenship. The biggest and most immediate expense would be access to taxpayer-subsidized health insurance under ObamaCare, but also the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid and other programs.

And these are the people who we are repeatedly told are the most self-sufficient and have the most to contribute among the cohort of people living here illegally. What does the CBO’s analysis portend for the rest of the illegal alien population who are also demanding amnesty and a “pathway to citizenship”? The other 10 million or so illegal aliens are even less skilled, less educated, less English proficient, and older than those who would gain amnesty under the DREAM Act. Undoubtedly, they would be exponentially more dependent on government programs and benefits if they were legally eligible to take advantage of them.

Even if a legislative amnesty went no further than the roughly two million people the CBO estimates would benefit from the DREAM Act, many — perhaps even most — of the other 10 million illegal aliens would eventually follow them down the pathway to citizenship. Unless Congress also enacted sweeping changes to our legal immigration policies that result in endless family chain migration, DREAM Act beneficiaries would eventually be able to sponsor relatives living here illegally, as well as relatives in their countries of origin. These downstream costs of the DREAM Act were not part of the CBO’s scoring which only looks at 10-year snapshots of the fiscal impact of pending legislation.

Thus, the costs incurred by American taxpayers during the first decade after the DREAM Act was enacted would balloon as a stream of less qualified relatives quickly followed. It is worth remembering that Sayfullo Saipov, the Uzbekistani visa lottery winner, arrived here in 2010. By the time he carried out his vehicular terrorist attack in New York on Halloween, he had managed to sponsor 23 relatives.

The CBO’s report bears out what the vast majority of Americans already know. Mass illegal immigration is not only a violation of our national sovereignty, but also a net burden to taxpayers. Granting amnesty — even to those who constitute the most qualified segment of the illegal alien population — would only increase burdens the American people have been forced to bear for decades.

Ira Mehlman is media director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).