Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., insists that the immigration bill he’s pushing will not allow noncitizens to qualify for government benefits, but ironically, thanks to President Obama’s health care law, that could make them more attractive to employers than American citizens.
Under the health care law, businesses with more than 50 employees who don’t offer health insurance (or who offer inadequate coverage) could be subject to fines of up to $3,000 per worker if at least one worker obtains coverage through a government-run exchange using federal subsidies.
The immigration bill allows those who have been in the country illegally to obtain provisional legal immigrant status — after several preconditions are met — even though they cannot apply for citizenship for at least a decade. But as Jed Graham of Investor’s Business Daily noted last week, because legal residents who are noncitizens are not eligible for the Obamacare subsidies, employers would be able to hire them without offering health insurance and they wouldn’t incur any fines.
Essentially, when combined, we’d have a system under which employers would be subject to a substantial tax on hiring American citizens that they would not be subject to if they were to hire newly legalized immigrants who have not yet obtained citizenship.
This issue is different from the usual debate over whether immigrants would be taking away jobs from American citizens or putting downward pressure on wages. This is about two government policies interacting to disadvantage American citizens.
When asked about this issue, Rubio spokesman Alex Conant emailed: “We’ve said from the outset that this legislation is not perfect, but it’s a lot better than the status quo of defacto amnesty.” He continued, “[T]he scenario you raise illustrates both the absurdity of Obamacare, and why we have insisted on a lengthy process to review this legislation before any votes are taken. We always expected there might be a need for amendments to fix technical problems, and we’ll be interested in seeing what sort of amendments might be offered to improve this part of the legislation without giving Obamacare to illegals – something Sen. Rubio has always said he will not support. Ultimately, we need to repeal Obamacare entirely.”