CBO Outlines Costs and Savings of Immigration Bill S. 744

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We now have the Congressional Budget Office’s projection for what the cost, benefit, and impacts would be for the current immigration bill under proposal. The Senate bill S. 744 is the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” and the CBO is trying to make projections based upon a large increase in the number of noncitizens who could lawfully enter the United States on both a permanent and temporary basis. The caveat is just how close or far off of the estimates the CBO will end up being based upon what Congress ends up enacting.

If enacted, by 2023 there would be a projected net increase of 10.4 million residents in the United States versus the number of people projected under current law. That total increase is made up of about 10.4 million permanent residents, about 1.6 million more temporary workers and their dependents, and a decrease of about 1.6 million unauthorized residents. The CBO current estimates that around 8 million unauthorized residents would initially gain legal status under the current bill.

The real issue ahead is the cost. CBO projects a boost in direct spending for federal benefit programs and it also expects that direct spending for enforcement and other purposes also would rise. It is also expected that the gain in the labor force would bring higher federal revenues.

CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation project that enacting S. 744 would generate changes in direct spending and revenues that would decrease federal budget deficits by $197 billion over the 2014–2023 period. The net savings after discretionary costs are projected at $175 billion. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Increase federal direct spending by $262 billion over the 2014–2023 period.
  • Increase federal revenues by $459 billion over the 2014–2023 period.
  • Decrease federal budget deficits through the changes in direct spending and revenues just discussed by $197 billion over the 2014–2023 period.

The real trick is how the numbers come down from Congress for what is approved, if it is approved. These numbers can fluctuate wildly and they likely depend upon economic factors that are more than just difficult to predict. We will let you be the judge of the CBO figures.