Sen. Marco Rubio yesterday attacked the estimate by the Heritage Foundation that adoption of the Senate’s amnesty bill negotiated by the Gang of Eight would cost U.S. taxpayers $6.3 TRILLION over the next 50 years after subtracting tax receipts. He told the Tampa Bay Times that the flaw was Heritage’s assumption that “these people are disproportionately poor because they have no education, and they will be poor for the rest of their lives in the U.S. Quite frankly that’s not the immigration experience in the U.S.”
Rubio is wrong. A survey of beneficiaries of the 1986 amnesty, five years after gaining legal status, found that on average they had not gained in income any more than other workers, and most had actually lost ground economically. That survey was the only one of its kind, and it did not include the agricultural worker amnesty recipients who were the least likely to have benefited from the amnesty.
Most of the arguments that adoption of the amnesty would be an economic benefit – like Sen. Rubio’s – are based on the assumption that newly legalized workers will get better jobs and move out of poverty. The experience with the beneficiaries of the 1986 amnesty proves that assumption is naïve – at best – or deliberately misleading.