The PJ Tatler

Numbers USA: 'This Amnesty Would Be a Net Cost To The Government Of Four to Five Trillion Dollars'

The Gang of Eight has released their plan for comprehensive immigration reform.  Some, like Numbers USA, are not supportive of the legislation.  I was able to speak with Roy Beck, President of Numbers USA, about the legislation.  We have a thirteen-year waiting period for citizenship, workplace verification, and border enforcement measures outlined in this bill.  Why shouldn’t Numbers support this piece of legislation.  For starters, there’s 20 million Americans waiting in a jobs line for work, and this bill puts 11 million illegals at the front of that line.

As Beck told me last week, the thirteen-year waiting period for citizenship is a politician’s exercise in “cleverness:”

[T]his bill puts them at the front of the line in terms of jobs.  Let’s talk about back of the line. Back of the line means… when they talk about back of the line, they mean back of the line for people who are waiting to get in, and as usual, they never think about Americans. The American people are their last consideration.   If they’re going to do this, they should put them at the back of the line of Americans [concerning jobs].

There are 20 million Americans, who are in the line that want a full-time job, and can’t find one.  That’s government figures – 20 million. So, if they’re going to offer some kind of amnesty, they should figure out a way that maybe they let them [illegal immigrants] stay – they don’t deport them – but they don’t let them — they’re not allowed to take any job until – basically – everybody in that 20 million line has chance at that job, which means you’ve to advertise that job nationwide on the internet. And it’s got to be long enough. And if any American comes in for that job – they get it.  The only time you let one of these illegal aliens have that job – after amnesty – is if there’s no American to take it. But that’s not the way it is.

They give the work permits immediately. In fact, seven million, of course, are in a job right now.  So, no – this bill puts them at the front if the line.  Now, in terms of citizenship, what they’re doing is that they’re going to bring everybody in the world who’s in line – waiting – and speed it up, which is about five million people – and they’re going to give them work permits right away. So, they move them in fast.  That way when they do give citizenship to illegal aliens, they can say they were at the back of the line.

Eleven million new people are now eligible for benefits from our welfare state.  What’s the additional cost, and can we afford it?

 When people talk about cost, and what we really are concerned about is net cost, I want people to keep in mind that there are two issues. One of them is what does it do to the economy? And the other one is what does it do to government spending? And those two are related, but they’re not the same thing.  So, first of all, when you add a million immigrants of any kind, it does increase the overall size of the economy because a million people are going to create some economic activity. But George Borjas, a professor at Harvard, has just finished a study of all the peer-reviewed studies, and what he finds is that our immigration system basically creates extra wealth.  Ninety-seven percent of that wealth goes to the immigrants themselves. The other three percent go to the more affluent parts of society.  And, at the same time, there’s a redistribution of wealth that goes from the very poorest Americans to the richest Americans.  So, that’s the overall economic effect.

And when it comes to the cost of government, [which will be in the form of more taxes] the Heritage Foundation looks at every tax possible, and then they look at all the programs that people of that wage earning status take [in benefits] and it looks like – Heritage hasn’t come out yet – but it looks like Heritage is going to come out finding that this amnesty would be a net cost to the government of four to five trillion dollars.  That’s a long answer to get to that point.  But the point is they haven’t come out with it yet.  And that’s a lot of money. We’re talking about several trillion dollars for a government that’s already has an incredible debt.  That’s already trying to figure out how to stop adding to that debt.   They can’t find enough spending cuts to balance the budget, and then they’re going to add all of this to the debt.

What’s Numbers USA’s plan of action concerning lobbying senators about the cost, especially Sen. Marco Rubio?

Our influence is our members, and our members’ ability to get other Americans to step forward.  We have 1.6 million people that we communicate with by email that have signed up with us.   Then, we have another 300,000 people, in addition to those who we communicate through Facebook. So, we’ve got about 1.9 million people.  We will be using those people to press Senator Rubio – to press any supporter of this – to come up and tell us how they’re going to pay for it. Now, we already know that they’re using some voodoo economics.

They amazingly try to say that you could add millions of low-educated people to your country, and they are going to pay more taxes than they take in benefits even though the average American doesn’t pay enough taxes to cover their benefits. A household needs to be earning probably close to $80,000 a year before it breaks even in terms of paying taxes to pay for its benefits.  So, there’s no way that these illegal aliens are going to come close to that. A lot of them are lucky to make $20-25,000 a year.

In short, newly legalized illegal aliens aren’t going to be able to cover for their share of the entitlement pie.

The big thing is that Heritage studies, as they always do, don’t treat illegal aliens as if they’re different from Americans. Basically, they say if an illegal alien is a high school dropout, they’re going to use services ­– if they’re legalized – they’re going to use service, and they’re going to pay taxes just like Americans, who are high school dropouts. And if they’re college graduates, they’re going to make money the same as American college graduates, and they will also use up services. In other words, it’s not a matter of somehow guessing about the immigrants. Experience shows that immigrants very quickly become consumers, taxpayers, and government users at about the same rate as Americans with the same educational level.  So, this idea that they’re trying to suggest that there’s no cost effect  [is incorrect.] There’s even somebody who’s saying this going to solve the deficit problem is just amazing.

There’s is, or at least should, be a consensus that the American people, as George Will aptly noted, would never support the police measures to find all 11 million here illegally.  Two-thirds have been here for over a decade.  The logistics of deporting all of them would be a nightmare.  It would take a line of buses from San Diego to Alaska to send them on their way.  That is if we were able to find all of them.   They’re an integral part of our society.  Yet, Will noted that “conservatism begins with facing facts,” and the solution rests with three previous immigration bills that promised border enforcement.

Concerning illegal immigrants, we’re not going to deport them all.  So, is Numbers USA going to add any revisions to the endorsed Barbara Jordan plan from 1997?

This gets to the question about [ what are] the options. The open borders people, and the media have bought this – that the only options are mass deportation or mass legalization. There are quite a number of options, but two of them. Two major options are these.

The less attractive option is basically we continue to keep doing what we’ve been doing.  That is we don’t have to choose between deportation and legalization.  We can just leave like it is right now, and that would be much cheaper than legalization.  Illegal aliens use FAR less services, than legal immigrants do.  As long as they’re illegal, they’re costing the taxpayers a lot less than if they’re legal. And that’s because it’s against the law for illegal aliens to use these services. For the most part, they don’t.  It costs money with emergency rooms etc., but making them legal immigrants will cost a ton. Leaving them illegal will save all kinds of money.

The other thing is the status quo, even though they’re taking lots of jobs away from Americans and driving down wages, but because they’re not legal — they’re not nearly as able to drive down the wages and compete with Americans in sort of regular middle class jobs.  If you legalized them, then they’re going to be able to be much more harmful to middle class workers so – there’s all kinds of reasons why the status quo is better than legalization, or what this bill does.

Nonetheless, I don’t like the status quo. I’m just saying there’s certainly no urgency to change the status quo if you’re going to jump into something as terrible as this amnesty.

The better option is to uphold the promises of the previous immigration bills –1986, 1990, and 1996 – all three of those huge acts made gigantic promises about enforcement.  Almost none of them have been carried out. So, what congress should do is re-pass all the promises that were made in the past, and put in mandates – and triggers – that required enforcement. That does away with the jobs magnet, the benefits magnet, secures the border, and have an entry/exit system that tracks all visitors.

At the point that all of that is put in place –Romney was right – a lot of illegal aliens would go home. Without a source of income, they would go home. Not all of them, not maybe most of them, but many will, and that’s the first thing that should happen.  Then, once that has happened – when you’ve put enforcement in place – you can see who’s still able to still survive here. And the fact is people who survive are people who have relatives because they’re going to be living off their families.  You can have a lot of these people, who are married to a U.S. citizen, or they might be a parent of a U.S. citizen, or a child of a U.S. citizen. And I think for those people who are part of nuclear families – you could consider some kind of amnesty at that point, but only for them.

The polling that we’ve done in the last week showed – by a three-to-one margin – when you give people a choice of giving out work permits first and then implementing enforcement over the next ten years, which is what this bill would do, or the choice of fully implementing border, workplace verification, and an entry/exit system before considering legalization.  Americans, by three-to-one, choose enforcement first, and that’s what we should do.  So, we’re mobilizing all of our people. We’re going to do everything we can to kill this bill. I think it will be killed. I think it’ll be killed in the Senate, and once all of that collapses – then we need a whole different set.  These eight people are exactly the wrong people to be working on this. We need to get people who actually have a much more practical kind of view of things. There are definitely four better Democrats and four better Republicans.  Get them to work on this, and come up with probably not a total grand scheme as much as doing the first steps. That’s what we’ll be working towards.