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Cato Institute Briefing Disabused Immigration Reform Myths

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cato instituteLibertarian think tank the Cato Institute trooped down to Capitol Hill last Friday to deliver a briefing entitled “Answering the Critics of Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” a guide on how to rebut five myths commonly invoked by immigration reform opponents. 

The briefing featured Stuart Anderson, Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute and author of the report, and Frank Sharry, Executive Director here at America’s Voice.  Moderating was Laura Renz, Government Affairs Manager at Cato.

The briefing began by focusing on the contents of the report, as Anderson debunked the common misconceptions surrounding immigration reform:

  • Argument #1: Immigration reform will harm taxpayers
    • Response: We have to compare the status quo to what a change in policy would mean.  When workers become legalized, their income sharply rises, which leads to large increases in tax revenue.  When you compare the effects of tighter border enforcement to the effects of a legalization program, the net gain to U.S. households is estimated to be $260 billion.
  • Argument #2: Newly legalized immigrants will burden the welfare rolls
    • Response: Immigrants are not heavy users of welfare, and additional limits can be placed on legalized workers. 
  • Argument #3: Amnesty will beget more amnesty
    • Response: Amnesty means no stipulations, and we can attach stipulations (fines, taxes) to any legalization program.  Furthermore, economists saw no discernible difference in immigration before and after the amnesty of 1986.
  • Argument #4: Legalizing more immigrants will undermine U.S. culture and the English language
    • Response: Well over 90% of Latino immigrants say that it’s more important to be learning English than retaining Spanish.  By the third generation, Americanization actually becomes a problem, where kids would benefit from being bilingual but no longer know Spanish.
  • Argument #5: Legalization means more unemployment for the native born
    • Response: Immigration makes the American economy more effective and does not increase the unemployment rate.