After months of negotiations, leaks, and press conferences, the United States Senate will begin voting on President Obama’s biggest second-term priority, immigration reform, this week. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to mark-up the Schumer-Rubio immigration bill and, while many amendments will be proposed, especially from conservatives, few real changes are expected to be made.
“We’ve got to basically stick to the standard of what we’ve established, what we’ve agreed over the last three months,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told CNN’s Candy Crowley Sunday. In other words, look for Democrats to kill any conservative efforts to change the basic amnesty-for-enforcement structure of the bill.
But before the Senate starts voting, a former senator will first weigh in with a much-anticipated report that could snuff out any remaining conservative support for the legislation. At 11:30 a.m. Monday, Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint will release will release a report authored by Robert Rector and Jason Richwine showing that the Schumer-Rubio bill will cost American taxpayers trillions. Heritage has not yet released the top line number of their new study, but a similar report on the 2007 immigration bill estimated that it would cost $2.6 trillion.
Previewing their findings Friday, Richwine explained why other organizations have so badly underestimated the costs of Schumer-Rubio:
In attempting to argue that the cost is lower, supporters of amnesty point to provisions in S. 744, the “Gang of Eight” bill, that would deny continued provisional status and legal permanent residency to individuals who are below the poverty line. Since immigrants in poverty are excluded from the amnesty, the argument goes, then the cost to taxpayers would be much lower. The short response is that the exclusion of people below the poverty line is a legal mirage that will never happen. A loophole in the law makes the poverty provision meaningless.
Richwine goes on to point out correctly that current immigration law already contains prohibitions on granting residency and citizenship to people “likely to become a public charge,” but these provisions are almost never enforced. There is no reason to believe the Obama administration would magically begin enforcing them after Schumer-Rubio became law.
Pro-amnesty Republicans like Grover Norquist and Douglas Holtz-Eakin have been fervently working behind the scenes to discredit Rector, his 2007 study, and the report he will release today. Having DeMint, perhaps the most trusted name in the conservative movement, back Rector’s new study will make their job much harder. Schumer-Rubio will begin to lose what little conservative support it ever had, starting today.
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