Immigration Cost: Statistically Sound Data or Biased Research?


Additionally, according to the Pew Hispanic analysis, "76.3 percent of all Hispanics ages 18 to 24 had a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) degree in 2011, up from 72.8 percent in 2010. And among these high school completers, a record share -- nearly half (45.6 percent) -- is enrolled in two-year or four-year colleges."

"We know that, historically, children of lawful immigrants get college and advance degrees at higher rates than native born," Holtz-Eakin.

He added that to stipulate it wouldn't be the same for those benefiting from immigration reform is "an extreme position."

Holtz-Eakin and the American Action Forum published a study in April that found immigration reform to increase the GDP by 0.9 percent and individual income by more than $1,500, while reducing the federal deficit by $2.7 trillion.

"Native-born population has low birth rate and, in the absence of immigration reform, our population actually shrinks," he said. "Much of our economic growth is dictated by our immigration choices. We'd not only get more bodies working, but bodies that typically work more and work longer, and start businesses at higher rates."

In 2007, the Heritage Foundation released a similar study to today's report that was highly criticized for its methodology.

Alex Nowrasteh, a fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, cautioned in a post in April that the 2007 report was riddled with errors that Heritage would be wise to address in its update. Nowrasteh cited several methodological choices that he said overstates the net cost of legalization.

Today, he said, once again, Heritage has produced a "fatally flawed" analysis that does not take into account that a larger labor force makes the economy bigger and more productive -- what critics say a "dynamic scoring" methodology would have resolved.

"I'm so disappointed in Heritage doing this because they've made such a name for themselves in dynamic scoring. That's a cornerstone of conservative economic analysis," Nowrasteh said. "The benefits of immigration are increasing all the time. Because they have not included them in their study, they get a massively biased estimate of the fiscal cost."

"They don't count the other dynamic changes like growth in GDP or increases in American productivity," he added.

Holtz-Eakin agreed, saying the new report did not improve any of the methodological errors.

"They changed nothing. ... [It] seems odd you would not improve the methods when you had a good 6 years to do so," he said. "It's intent is to disrupt the progresses of legislation. I am a believer of the fact that if you actually understand the numbers you discount what they are telling you."

ABC News' Abby Phillip contributed to this report.

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