Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Price of Illegal Immigration

Update: Catch and release ends, 'bout time!

WaPo today covers the report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office on the cost of implementing the stalled Immigration Reform Bill that would give a path to citizenship to all illegal immigrants here for more than two years. Personally, I think giving them legal residence would've been more appropriate; I just cannot agree with the idea of rewarding someone who broke the law. In addition, I think that most of them will not become citizens anyway as they are not here to be Americans, they are here to work, make money and give their families back in their native countries a better life.

Back to the report. You can read the WaPo article here, but I will cover both sides of the coin, the expenses we as a nation MUST incur, and the expenses that come about from absorbing all the illegals.

First we have to incur the following costs:

The CBO's five-year cost estimates include $800 million to hire 1,000 additional Border Patrol agents; $2.6 billion to build detention facilities for 20,000; $3.3 billion to build and maintain 370 miles of border fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the U.S.-Mexico frontier; and $1.6 billion to establish a computerized system to verify the eligibility of applicants for lawful employment.
I'm a big advocate of law enforcement so I find this measures in dire need of implementation. However, the report does not consider securing the northern border nor the ports which are essential not only to control illegal immigration but in the efforts of Homeland Security. Now to what it is estimated absorbing the illegals will cost:
Over the next decade, legalized workers and their families, in addition to guest workers and theirs, would claim $24.5 billion in tax refunds through the earned income credit and child credit, $15.4 billion in Medicare and Medicaid, $5.2 billion in Social Security benefits and $3.7 billion in food stamps and child nutrition programs, the report estimates.
Aside from the financial factor, we also have to consider the population number factor:
The CBO study, released Friday evening, not only details the Senate bill's cost but also enumerates the plan's impact on the population. By 2016, CBO researchers estimate, more than 16 million people would either become legal permanent residents under the bill or attain some other legal status. That total includes 4.4 million legalized undocumented workers, 3.3 million guest workers and 2.6 million family members brought in through the new programs. By 2026, the addition to the U.S. population would jump to 24.4 million.
This 24.4 million, is of course, as long as we as a nation can control the illegal immigration through border crossing and ships from Asia. So let's do some math. The enforcement will be about $8.4 billion and the cost of absorbtion will be $49 billion. What I would like to see is an estimate of how many of these costs are a one time fee and how many are ongoing. This report will certainly fuel the debate over immigration from both sides.

As for me, I'll keep saying, SECURE THE BORDERS FIRST, then figure out what the next step is. Unless you stop the leak first, you can never take all the water out.

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