The price of reform

The strategy of attacking the fiscal impact of the immigration overhaul reemerges

The best way to sabotage a bill in Congress is to make sure its approval increases the budget deficit, which is now happening with immigration reform.

The fact that a bill has not even been formally introduced seems not to matter to critics of the overhaul, who are already trying to reuse a strategy from 2007. That year, a Heritage Foundation study estimated that the reform would cost $2.6 trillion—a number that was refuted by the Congressional Budget Office, which estimated that the impact on the budget would have been “relatively small.” However, the damage was already done with the exaggerated number.

Now, critics are again trying to scare people off with manipulated numbers, like those that only take into account the expenses related to immigrants, disregarding their tax contributions.

Heritage is now repeating its 2007 numbers while promising an updated report. At the same time, the Center for Immigration Studies presented an analysis that says that the wealth that emerges from the reform will be for businesses and immigrants, hurting low-income natives.

The difference between 2007 and today is that reform proponents are better prepared than before for this war of numbers. At the end of the day, with contributions and expenses accounted for, the balance will be positive for the U.S. when it legalizes a young workforce that uses fewer social benefits than the average native-born American. We hope that estimates that exclude future beneficiaries from Obamacare for a period of time are based on reality instead of political calculations.

In the end, the most important analysis will be the one from the Congressional Budget Office about the bill yet to be introduced. There is no doubt that comprehensive immigration reform will have costs and benefits, boost the GDP and expand the tax base. This will be the result of a price that will be worth paying.