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Comprehensive Immigration Reform More Than Pays For Itself

  • The 2006 comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate would have more than paid for its reform provisions through increased tax revenue. According to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation, the 2006 Senate bill would have raised $66 billion in new revenue over a ten-year period, primarily from income and payroll taxes paid by legalized workers and their employers.
  • The 2007 comprehensive immigration reform bill would also have more than paid for its reform provisions through increased tax revenue. A similar CBO analysis of the 2007 Senate bill estimated that it would generate $48 billion in revenue between 2008 and 2017. Moreover, this analysis calculated the costs of services to the newly legalized at $23 billion, resulting in a net gain of $25 billion over ten years.

Enforcement Without Reform Decreases Revenues

  • Trying to eliminate the undocumented workforce through enforcement-only policies and legislation would only result in decreased tax revenues. The CBO concluded that mandatory E-Verify – the enforcement-only approach favored by hardliners in Congress – would decrease federal revenues by $17.3 billion between 2009 and 2018, largely because it would result in an increase in the number of workers who are laboring in the underground economy and are being paid outside the tax system.
  • While undocumented workers are ineligible for almost all federal public assistance programs, between one-half and three-quarters of undocumented workers pay federal and state income taxes, Social Security taxes, and Medicare taxes. Legalization would get all of them and their employers paying into the tax system.

“Enforcement-Only” Policies Spend Millions in Taxpayers’ Hard-Earned Money for Little to No Return on Their Investment

  • Spending on immigration enforcement has skyrocketed, yet the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. has increased from 3.5 million in 1990 to 12 million in 2008.
    • The annual budget of the U.S. Border Patrol stood at $1.6 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2006—an increase of 332% since FY 1993.
    • The number of Border Patrol agents grew to 14,923 in FY 2007—an increase of 276% since FY 1993.
    • The budget of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has grown from $5.9 billion in FY 2004 to $9.3 billion in FY 2008.
    • The budget of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has grown from $3.7 billion in FY 2004 to $5.1 billion in FY 2008.
  • Deportation, the alternative to earned legalization, would cost taxpayers billions.
    • According to a study by the Center for American Progress, deporting approximately 10 million undocumented immigrants would cost at least $206 billion over five years, or $41.2 billion annually.  By comparison, the total budget for DHS in FY 2008 was $47 billion.
    • Deporting undocumented workers would represent a loss of 1.8 trillion in annual spending and $651.5 billion in annual output, according to a study by the Perryman Group.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Would Stimulate the U.S. Economy

  • According to a new report by the Immigration Policy Center and the Center for American Progress, comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes a legalization program for undocumented immigrants would increase U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by at least $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
    • The higher earning power of legalized immigrants workers would result in increased tax revenues of $4.5 billion in the first three years.
    • The report also found that mass deportation would reduce U.S. GDP by 1.46% or a $2.6 trillion loss in GDP over 10 years.
  • An additonal study from Manuel Pastor of the University of Southern California Center for the Study of Immigration Integration examined the potential economic effects of comprehensive reform on the state of California and found that reform would increase the state and local tax base by about $350 million in the short run. Reform would be a critical asset for California and other states facing severe budget shortfalls.