Arguments Against Rector/Richwine Paper Say Amnesty Wouldn't Cost $6.3 Trillion—Because Illegal Immigrants Will Cost That Anyway!

Critics of the Heritage Foundation Report by Robert Rector and Jason Richwine are saying that it's "flawed" because its estimate that Amnesty will cost 6.3 TRILLION dollars is wrong. Unfortunately for them, the reason they advance is that illegals are going to cost us that anyway, under the no-enforcement status quo.

llegal aliens already eligible for retirement programs, says Heritage Foundation critic

Neil Munro

Daily Caller, May 29, 2013

The conservative Heritage Foundation’s $6.3 trillion cost estimate for the amnesty bill is overstated because taxpayers are already on the hook to pay most of the costs used to calculate that total, said Robert Lynch, an immigration expert at the progressive Center for American Progress.

Heritage’s comprehensive prediction that it will cost $6.3 trillion over 50 years to legalize 11 million undocumented immigrants includes the cost of putting all of them on national retirement programs, such as Social Security and Medicaid.

But current law allows American-born, adult children of illegal aliens to seek green cards for their parents and siblings, Lynch told a May 29 panel discussion hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

The exclusion of that loophole is “astonishing,” said Lynch, who backs the controversial immigration rewrite that would bring in 30 million immigrants over the next 10 years.

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For more formal (i. e. boring) versions of this argument, see

The Rector paper estimates that the status quo costs $1 trillion, and amnesty would add $5.3 trillion, for a total cost of current illegal immigration plus amnesty = $6.3 trillion. By saying that the status quo is more costly than $1 trillion and that, therefore, the additional cost of amnesty is less than $5.3 trillion, the critics are essentially conceding that the total cost (illegal immigration plus amnesty) is $6.3 trillion.

This is a remarkably weak argument for a simple reason: Even if amnesty somehow came at no addditional cost, the obvious policy implication is still to enforce the law to reduce the size of the illegal population.

That would be the most fiscally responsible approach even by the critics' estimates.

The best immigration policy (border and interior enforcement to reduce the number of illegals) doesn't change.