Former Senator and current Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint appears set to launch a new attack on immigration reform in the hopes of derailing it entirely. Just like he used his super PAC to keep Republicans in the dark ages and out of power in the Senate, — thanks in large part to DeMint’s PAC support for Senate candidates like Todd Akin (R-MO), Sharron Angle (R-NV), Ken Buck (R-CO), and Christine O’Donnell (R-DE) – it appears DeMint is at it once again, now trying to derail the momentum and broad support behind immigration reform, no matter the consequences for the Republican Party.
By backing many extreme, far right candidates who proved unpopular with the general electorate, DeMint was a major reason the Republicans lost a series of winnable Senate races and Democrats maintained the majority in the U.S. Senate. Now, by backing extreme, far right positions on immigration reform that are unpopular with the general electorate, DeMint again seems intent on undermining the GOP’s White House prospects by opposing an approach to reform championed by leading contenders such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeb Bush and embraced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
According to Bloomberg, DeMint’s Heritage Foundation is set to release an update to a report the think tank produced in 2007 attacking the plan for immigration reform “for its potential costs to public programs including Social Security and Medicare.” The problem is, we have heard this argument before and, this time, a few methodological tricks will not slow momentum on an issue the American people want and the economy needs. DeMint’s approach is counter-productive politically and distorts the economic reality.
Even many conservative and libertarian voices are challenging DeMint’s expected findings and faulty analysis:
- The libertarian Cato Institute posted a pre-buttal to the findings, listing a host of errors made in the 2007 version of the Heritage cost report. According to Cato’s Alex Nowrasteh, “Following the enactment of President Ronald Reagan’s 1986 law granting 3 million immigrants legal status, their wages increased, for some by as much as 15 percent, because legal workers are more productive and can command higher wages than the undocumented.”
- Grover Norquist wrote recently that the “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill “would greatly strengthen the American economy.” Norquist continued, “There is one piece of legislation now before Congress that would dramatically reduce the deficit over the next decade. That bill has widespread and bipartisan support from Tea Party leaders like Senator Rand Paul (Republican, Kentucky) and Marco Rubio (Republican, Florida) as well as the US Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO labor federation, and the American Farm Bureau. That deficit-reducing legislation is S744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.”
- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said on Fox News Sunday in April, that immigrants under the Senate Gang of Eight bill “don’t qualify for any federal benefits…This is an important point. No federal benefits, no food stamps, no welfare, no ObamaCare. They have to prove they’re gainfully employed. They have to be able to support themselves, so they’ll never become a public charge.”
- Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the CBO and president of the American Action Forum, writes in a new study, “Immigration reform can raise population growth, labor force growth, and thus growth in GDP,” he writes. “New entrepreneurial vigor embodied in new capital and consumer goods can raise the standard of living… “A benchmark immigration reform would raise the pace of economic growth by nearly a percentage point over the near term, raise GDP per capita by over $1,500 and reduce the cumulative federal deficit by over $2.5 trillion.” Even the Wall Street Journal editorial board was persuaded by the findings of Mr. Holtz-Eakin’s study.
Immigration reform will be a boon for the economy, despite what DeMint and the Heritage Foundation will say. The Center for American Progress found, “Providing legal status and citizenship to the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in our country would trigger a significant boost to the U.S. economy over the next 10 years: Immigrants would earn more, consume more, and consequently the economy as a whole would grow…The sooner undocumented immigrants are legalized and gain citizenship, the larger the gains will be for the U,.S. economy.” CAP estimates that if the 11 million undocumented immigrants we granted legal status in 2013, the United States could expect an $832 billion increase in GDP over 10 years.