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Senator Mike Lee Invokes Discredited, Toxic Heritage Report to Oppose Immigration

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Today, on the Senate floor, we saw something we hadn’t seen yet in the immigration debate: A Senator actually invoked the Heritage Foundation’s infamous anti-immigrant report. Sure, Rep. Steve King has cited the report, but he’s so extreme we’d expect it from him. But Utah’s Mike Lee seemed unfazed by the controversy surrounding Heritage.  As he said today during a discussion on the economics of immigration:

Which brings me to the final concern that must be addressed before anyone should support this bill: the cost.  One study by the Heritage Foundation, says the Gang of Eight bill could cost taxpayers more than $6 trillion.

Some on the right and the left have criticized that study, and I welcome that debate.  But the proponents of this bill have so far refused to do their own cost analysis.  If they believe the Heritage Foundation is wrong, that’s fine.  But they should tell us how much they think it is going to cost taxpayers.  So far, we have heard nothing.

Yeah, we believe the Heritage Report is factually wrong, as do many other key Republicans, including Paul RyanMarco RubioJeff FlakeAmericans for Tax Reform, the American Action Forum, and the Cato Institute.  Co-author of the report Robert Rector once admitted that he hadn’t even examined the full immigration bill before producing his study, and told Larry Kudlow that the report didn’t bother to calculate the economic benefits from immigrants.  And the Senate Gang of 8 believes the CBO will find that the  immigration legislation pays for itself and won’t add to the deficit because of all the fines and fees included in the legalization program.

In any case, the report became infamous in a very, very bad way shortly after its debut, thanks to one of its co-authors being  Jason Richwine of  “No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites” infamy. That kind of destroyed Heritage’s credibility on the subject. Richwine apparently still proudly stands by his repugnant work.

As we wrote last month:

Keep in mind, this Heritage Report was going to make the case against reform for the anti-immigrant crowd. But it’s been a disaster — and it keeps getting worse. Instead of changing the debate, Heritage has proven how much the debate has changed.

Mike Lee keeps saying that he supports immigration reform–he just doesn’t like the Gang of 8 bill.  It’s hard to believe that from someone who cites a report connected to fundamental stereotypes against Hispanics, and the only kind of people still citing it are types like Steve King, who just led a House vote to deport DREAMers last week.