Conservative Group: Immigration Reform Would Cost $6 Trillion

The Heritage Foundation is out with a new report on the Senate's immigration overhaul, and says it will cost the country more than $6 trillion. The influential conservative group issued a similar report that helped scuttle the 2007 immigration bill.

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It's not clear what the cost might be of a bipartisan Senate bill that would give legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants. But today, the conservative Heritage Foundation announced it has the answer. Here's NPR's David Welna.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: The report on the fiscal price tag of legalizing millions of immigrants was presented by The Heritage Foundation's new leader, former GOP senator and Tea Party favorite Jim DeMint.

JIM DEMINT: Our analysis shows that taxpayers, including immigrants who've come here lawfully, will be saddled with $6.3 trillion in cost over the next 50 years.

WELNA: Robert Rector, the report's lead author, said such legalized immigrants would pay some $3 trillion in taxes over the next five decades but would receive more than $9 trillion in benefits.

ROBERT RECTOR: They are always in fiscal deficit. They always receive more in government benefits than they pay in in taxes.

WELNA: But Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who headed the Congressional Budget Office in the last Bush administration, says Rector's study seeks to show big numbers by looking at possible costs over half a century and such, he says, is as fraud as a similar study Rector did six years ago.

DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN: It's not a full immigration reform analysis. It's a narrow piece. It focuses extensively on the government and ignores the private economy. You know, none of that's changed since 2007. I think he's going to have the same problems.

WELNA: Still, that earlier study helped sink the last attempt at immigration overhaul. David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.

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