Wednesday, April 9, 2008

More than 37 million immigrants in the United States, both legal and illegal, cost the federal government more than $346 billion last year, twice as much as the nation’s fiscal deficit, according to a report released yesterday.

“This is another nail in the coffin of economic growth,” said Edwin Rubenstein, director of research and president of ESR Research, which released the report. “There is absolutely no reason immigration policy shouldn’t be discussed on its economic merits.”

Mr. Rubenstein, a former director of research at the Hudson Institute, a nonpartisan policy research organization, said U.S. taxpayers paid more than $9,000 for each immigrant in the country, a third of whom are believed to be in the U.S. illegally.

The report, which analyzed costs based on 15 separate federal agencies, estimated that the departmental impacts ranged from a high of $146 billion at the Treasury Department to a low of $300 million at the Defense Department.

The loss estimates, the report said, included $100 billion in federal taxes lost “from the reduction of native incomes caused by immigrant workers.”

While a total of 15 federal departments were examined in terms of the fiscal impact of immigration, Mr. Rubenstein said the federal budgets never provided a comprehensive analysis to the public.

And even programs that are not usually associated with immigration, he said, have actually added financial burdens to the taxpayers.

For example, Mr Rubenstein said the Bureau of Land Management, a unit of the Interior Department, spends millions of dollars to clean the trash left behind by illegal immigrants crossing the Southern border in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

“Immigrants are poorer, pay less tax and are more likely to receive public benefits than natives,” Mr. Rubenstein said, adding that while immigrants account for 13 percent of the U.S. population, they and their children will account for more than 80 percent of the population growth through mid-century.

Mr. Rubenstein, former senior economist at W.R. Grace & Co. where he directed studies of government waste and inefficiency for the Grace Commission, said there is a “deliberate policy of the federal government to suppress the fiscal impact of immigration,” and interest groups like big business should be responsible for the information stonewall.

And while arguing that business is the beneficiary of immigration, Mr. Rubenstein said native workers are hurt the most.

“(Workers) don’t have the incentives to protest this,” he said, noting that individual losses often are small. “They are busy just putting bread on the table.”

Wayne Lutton, editor of the Social Contract, which published Mr. Rubenstein’s study, criticized a recent call by Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve chairman, to allow even higher levels of immigration.

According to Mr. Greenspan, opening up immigration to more skilled workers would solve problems of both the shortage of higher-educated workers and current income equality.

“What he really means is that salaries can be cut for educated American workers forced to compete with foreign competitors in their own country,” Mr. Lutton said. “There really is no limit to the greed of cheap labor profiteers.”

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide