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Federal report finds immigration reform is good for the economy

June 20, 2013|By Sandra Hernandez
  • Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has persistently argued that the immigration overhaul would cost a fortune. A new report by the Congressional Budget Office suggests otherwise.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has persistently argued that the immigration… (Lauren Victoria Burke /…)

Opponents of immigration reform must be having a tough week. First, the Congressional Budget Office released a report Tuesday that found that a bipartisan Senate bill that proposes legal status for  immigrants who are illegally in the country, along with tougher enforcement, would help the U.S. economy.  

The highly anticipated CBO report directly challenges one of the favorite claims made by some immigration hawks, including Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who argue that any bill that favors a path to legal status for the millions of immigrants illegally in the country would cost a fortune and hurt American workers. King reiterated that claim on Wednesday during an hours-long rally outside the Capitol.

As it turns out, the CBO study found that SB 744 would actually help reduce the federal deficit by nearly $200 billion. The cost analysis also found that the measure would increase wages over the next 10 years  and help replenish a shrinking work force. Those findings are similar to those reached by other economists, including Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the CBO. A study released earlier this year by Holtz-Eakin found that “labor force participation rates are high among foreign-born,” and “the rates of entrepreneurship among immigrants are higher than among native-born population. As a result, immigration reform would help grow the economy and slash the deficit.

And it only got worse for King and other hard-liners. By Thursday, it appeared that the CBO report may have played a role in getting a bipartisan group of senators to reach a compromise deal on border security. The amendment, introduced by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.), would double the number of boots on the ground along the border. It would also require the federal government to complete construction of 700 miles of fending along the border between the United States and Mexico.

As the Times noted in a May editorial, there are plenty of reasons to support immigration reform. The CBO's report is just another reminder that the economic benefits are among the most compelling.

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