Amnesty price tag? $6.3 trillion

Amnesty price tag? $6.3 trillion

Illegals Crossing BorderAmnesty will cost American taxpayers at least $6.3 trillion in welfare and other public benefits, the Heritage Foundation has just announced.

Former Sen. Jim DeMint, now president of the foundation, made the announcement at a news conference this morning.

The report was authored by Senior Research Fellow Robert Rector, who said if the current reform proposal is adopted, illegal aliens granted amnesty would be eligible for over 80 different welfare programs during the course of their lives.

The $6.3 trillion amount is calculated by first adding the cost of Obamacare, Social Security, and those 80 welfare programs that amnestied illegal aliens will be eligible for, over the average life span. That amount is then reduced by the estimated taxes that would be paid, resulting in the $6.3 trillion dollar figure.

Amnesty Chart 12By way of comparison, the total government debt is $16 trillion, so the cost of amnesty is equivalent to 40 percent of the nation’s total debt.

Rector emphasized repeatedly that $6.3 trillion dollars is a “very, very low estimate.” That figure assumes only 11 million illegal aliens in the country and that there will be no growth in the cost of welfare benefits.

A typical illegal alien household, if amnesty were granted, would receive three dollars in benefits for every dollar they pay in taxes.

Heritage has provided this writer with a link to the report, which is posted online.

Rector’s research has played a crucial role in major policy debates. Rector was an author of 1996 welfare reform bill. His 2007 study on the amnesty proposal that year “helped kill the McCain-Kennedy amnesty push,” as Mark Krikorian wrote in National Review.

Among the new report’s major findings:

  • A typical immigrant who is granted amnesty will receive state benefits for 50 years. The Heritage report shows that those former illegal aliens will obtain $592,000 more in total benefits than they pay in taxes during their lifetime.
  • Over the course of their lives, former unlawful immigrants together would receive $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services and pay $3.1 trillion in taxes, for a lifetime “fiscal deficit” – at minimum – of $6.3 trillion (total benefits minus total taxes). That $6.3 trillion will be paid “by the U.S. taxpayer,” Rector said at the news conference.

The high cost of amnesty will be driven by the low education level of so many illegal immigrants:

“[T]he typical unlawful immigrant has only a 10th-grade education. Half of unlawful immigrant households are headed by an individual with less than a high school degree, and another 25 percent of household heads have only a high school degree,” the report notes.

Rector looked at the amount of taxes paid by an average illegal alien household, and compared that with the dollar amount of benefits received. The resulting amount is what he calls the “net fiscal deficit.” As the chart below shows, the average illegal alien household will receive $14,000 more from the government than they contribute in taxes.

Amnesty Chart 6The per-family cost per illegal immigrant household would double under amnesty, according to the report.

Amnesty Chart 10

Amnesty will have a long-term financial cost, a fact infrequently discussed by the Senate Gang of Eight during their secretive deliberations. Previous WND reporting has noted amnesty’s impact on the American work force.

In what will likely be the authoritative estimate of amnesty’s cost, the 102-page Heritage Foundation report is sure to be hotly debated and will be the centerpiece of discussions about the consequences of amnesty.

DeMint said that the U.S. needs an immigration system that encourages “patriotic assimilation.”

He said that immigration can have economic benefits, but “amnesty for those who are here unlawfully is not necessary to capture those benefits.”

Previous estimates by Rector, without yet taking the full range of welfare benefits into account, placed the cost of amnesty at $2.5 trillion, which was the estimated cost of the defeated 2007 amnesty proposal.

As Rector pointed out, the $6.3 trillion is a low estimate. Among other assumption, that dollar figure assumes that there will be “no cheating” of the amnesty system.

Rector pointed out that during the 1986 amnesty, 25 percent of those who received amnesty were not eligible.

WND recently reported when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder claimed that “creating a mechanism for [illegal aliens] to earn citizenship and move out of the shadows… is a matter of civil and human rights.”

Holder also said that the federal government will work hard “to safeguard the rights of language minorities.”

These claims are likely to add fuel to the growing controversy over the Senate amnesty proposal.

Holder made these remarks in an April 24 speech to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund Awards Gala. MALDEF’s notable activity includes suing Sheriff Joe Arpaio and opposing Arizona’s immigration law.

Holder said, “[I]t is long past time to reform our immigration system in a way that is fair; that guarantees that all are playing by the same rules…”

However, one of the primary criticisms of amnesty is that it does not treat all immigrants according to the same rules. Instead, according to critics, amnesty would reward illegal aliens by allowing them to bypass established procedures required for legal entry.

See Holder’s comments:

Heritage also pointed out unlawful immigration appears to depress the wages of low-skill U.S.-born workers by 10 percent, or $2,300.

And it noted that even if all of the children of all of the illegals “graduated from college, they would be hard-pressed to pay back $6.3 trillion in costs over their lifetimes.”

“Regrettably … at every stage of the life cycle, unlawful immigrants, on average, generate fiscal deficits (benefits exceed taxes). Unlawful immigrants, on average, are always tax consumers; they never once generate a ‘fiscal surplus’ that can be used to pay for government benefits elsewhere in society. This situation obviously will get much worse after amnesty.”

The report noted besides direct benefits of Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance and others, there also are more than 80 programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical and other services to low-income Americans.

Among a few are food stamps, the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit, public housing, Supplemental Security Income, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Also subsidized for low-income families are public schools, police, fire, highways, parks and other services.

John Bennett

John Bennett

John Bennett has written for The Daily Caller, American Thinker,, Human Events, Accuracy in Media, FrontPage Magazine, and WND. He has been a featured guest on the Laura Ingraham, Lars Larson, and Rusty Humphries programs. He holds a Master's degree from the University of Chicago.


For your convenience, you may leave commments below using Disqus. If Disqus is not appearing for you, please disable AdBlock to leave a comment.