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 Home > News & Policies > June 2007

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 6, 2007

Immigration Fact Check: CBO Report - The Rest of the Story

     Fact sheet In Focus: Immigration

CBO Report Says Bipartisan Immigration Reform Bill Will Have "Relatively Small" Effect On Budget Balance, Impact On Illegal Immigration "Could Be Large"

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finds that new Federal revenue from taxes, penalties, and fees under the bipartisan immigration bill will more than offset the costs of setting up the new immigration system and the costs of any Federal benefits temporary workers, Z visa holders, and future legal immigrants under the bill would receive.

  • CBO estimates increased revenue from taxes, penalties, and fines under the bill will offset any estimated increases in mandatory spending, such as emergency Medicaid, and produce a net fiscal surplus of $25.6 billion over 10 years. This surplus will be used to cover costs including:
    • The costs of implementing the new program.
    • A significant portion of the costs of better securing our borders and improving interior enforcement through additional Border Patrol and ICE agents.
  • CBO concludes temporary workers, Z visa holders, and future legal immigrants under the Senate bill will have a positive financial impact on Social Security and Medicare.
  • The temporary worker and Z visa programs will be funded by fees charged to participants, and will not be subsidized by taxpayer dollars.
  • Z visa holders and temporary workers under the Senate bill must pay income taxes and are not entitled to welfare, food stamps, SSI, or non-emergency Medicaid.

CBO concludes that with border and interior enforcement provisions, this immigration bill will have "a relatively small net effect on the federal budget balance over the next two decades."

  • The bill authorizes more than $40 billion in spending. Assuming all of this spending is appropriated, the bill would produce a net fiscal deficit. However, more than three-quarters of this spending is for enhancements to border security and interior enforcement. These enhancements will benefit the country as a whole and reflect costs that taxpayers currently bear. In addition, revenues generated by new workers under the bill will still cover about half of these enforcement costs.
  • The bill is an improvement over last year's Senate bill (S. 2611), which CBO estimated would have required a taxpayer contribution of twice the magnitude estimated for this year's bill.

CBO estimates the bill "would reduce the net annual flow of unauthorized immigrants by one-quarter" but admits "the potential impact of the border security, employment verification, and other enforcement measures on the flow of unauthorized migrants is uncertain but could be large."

  • For the first time, CBO has found that the enforcement provisions of an immigration bill are robust enough to reduce significantly illegal immigration.
  • CBO notes that, while previous attempts to cut illegal immigration have been relatively unsuccessful, the bill "would authorize significant additional resources as well as a comprehensive employment verification system to deter the hiring of unauthorized workers."
  • The report also notes that "the implementation of the new guest worker program and the provision of visas to the currently unauthorized population could occur only if the Secretary of DHS certifies" that certain enforcement measures are in place.

Background On The Bipartisan Immigration Reform Bill

The bill commits the most resources to border safety and security in U.S. history.

Temporary worker and Z visas will not be issued until meaningful benchmarks for border security and worksite enforcement are met. These triggers include:

  • Increasing border fencing.
  • Increasing vehicle barriers at the Southern border.
  • Increasing the size of the Border Patrol.
  • Installing ground-based radar and camera towers along the Southern border.
  • Ensuring resources are available to maintain the effective end of "Catch and Release" for every non-Mexican apprehended at our border.
  • Establishing and putting in use a reliable employment eligibility verification system.

The bill recognizes that enforcement alone will not work to secure our border and meet the needs of the U.S. economy. The temporary worker program will help immigration enforcement officers control the border by creating a lawful and orderly channel for foreign workers to fill jobs that Americans are not doing.

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