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Mon Feb 11, 2013, 08:44 AM

CAP: Immigrants Are Makers, Not Takers (Why Heritage Foundation and CIS are wrong)

With immigration reform heating up in Congress and the White House putting its muscle behind legislative action, immigration opponents are already campaigning against common-sense reforms. Their current line of attack is an unsubstantiated claim that legalizing the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States will be too costly for our nation. Playing to ignorant prejudice, these groups falsely suggest that immigrants are “takers”—people who use more public benefits than other groups—and that as a result, legalization would cost the United States trillions of dollars.

Mainstream economists have thoroughly debunked this general stereotype of immigrants as takers, finding that immigrants are a net positive for the economy and pay more into the system than they take out. In fact, immigrants’ contributions have also played a key role in prolonging the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund. And the truth is that the cost-benefit analyses that immigration restrictionists have used to make their wild cost projections simply are not well-rounded or accurate.

Immigrants are in fact “makers,” not takers.

Even with these positive economic benefits, though, anti-immigrant groups continue to insist that immigrants take more out of the system than they pay into it. Two studies in particular have received attention lately: a 2007 study by the Heritage Foundation, which found that legalization would cost $2.6 trillion; and a 2011 study by the Center for Immigration Studies, which concluded that Hispanic immigrants use more public benefits than other groups.

Both studies rely on a snapshot of immigrants frozen in time to get to their calculations. Heritage focuses only on immigrants as retirees without taking into account the money they pay into the system during their working years. The Center for Immigration Studies focuses on families with children without taking into account the taxes their children will pay over their lifetime. Each approach is predicated on faulty assumptions.


Hmmm, "Playing to ignorant prejudice..." sounds like a typical tactic from a particular political party.

Refuting studies from the Heritage Foundation and the Center for Immigration Studies is not particularly difficult to do given their right-wing, fact-free bias, but I am glad the the Center for American Progress went to the trouble to do it.

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