By Robert Schlesinger |
The Senate's proposal looks a lot like the failed 2007 bill in that it would privatize the profits among a few groups and socialize the losses by dispersing the costs among the public at large. Illegal aliens would get work permits and a path to citizenship, owners of capital would get a permanent increase in workers to keep labor costs down, and pro-amnesty politicians would get a victory. For these groups, the proposal looks very good.
The cost to the American taxpayer, however, would be significant. A legalization for millions of less-affluent illegal aliens could cost U.S. taxpayers $30 billion a year in premium healthcare credits alone. Immigrants and illegal aliens are much more likely to live in poverty than U.S.-born citizens and thus more likely to rely on government assistance programs. The Senate's proposal includes a fast-track amnesty for illegal agriculture workers who are among the poorest workers in the country. The cost of supporting them will be passed on to the taxpayers.
Moreover, the Senate proposal would not stop future illegal immigration. The Senate proposal prioritizes legalization for those who have abused our immigration laws over mandatory E-Verify to protect the citizens and legal immigrant workers harmed by those abuses. Mandatory E-Verify is not even included as a necessary benchmark to trigger the "path to citizenship" for the amnestied 11 million. In fact the language in the outline suggests that the Senate might scrap E-Verify altogether and start over to "develop" a brand new system.
American taxpayers have been promised mandatory workplace enforcement since the first mass amnesty bill in 1986. Those promises were never kept as anti-enforcement groups successfully lobbied against them. The American Civil Liberties Union has already stated its opposition to even the weak workplace enforcement measures contained in the Senate proposal. As in 2007, the authors appear to have no commitment to ending future flows of illegal labor.
The Senate proposal would expand, not reform, our failed immigration system. Corporate CEOs would enjoy a labor market perpetually in their favor and their shareholders may profit. But the rest of America would be left to pick up the tab.
About Rosemary Jenks Director of Government Relations at NumbersUSA
Marshall Fitz Director of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress
Tamar Jacoby President of ImmigrationWorks USA
Darrell West Director Governance Studies at Brookings Institution
Mark Krikorian Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies