Immigration Reform Would Boost Economy, CBO Report Finds

Jun 18, 2013 6:49pm

The immigration reform bill drawn up by the Senate Gang of 8 would boost the economy and lower the deficit, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says in a report out today.

The newly released, and highly anticipated, report from the government’s nonpartisan bookkeeper comes as the Senate debates the bipartisan immigration legislation offered by the Gang of 8 and the House moves forward on a more piecemeal approach.

The report, “The Economic Impact of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” says overall the legislation would lead to increases in the labor force, wages, and productivity.

Along with that, the CBO report says, there would be a huge decrease in the federal budget deficits over the first 10 years of implementation: $197 billion. The second decade after implementation the bill would save roughly $700 billion, with an additional $300 billion deficit reduction possible through what the report called “economic impacts not included in the cost estimate.”

The cost of enacting the immigration overhaul would be far less than the financial benefits, according to the report. Implementation would cost estimated $22 billion over the 2014-23 period and $20 billion to $25 billion over the period 2024-33.

The report also projects the legislation would increase the GDP by 3.3 percent within the first 10 years after being signed into law (2023) and by 5.4 percent by 2033.

After the announcement of the CBO report, Gang of 8 member Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., took to the Senate floor to say the report “contains some very positive news for comprehensive immigration reform.”

“At the beginning we made an important promise, our bill will not add to the deficit,” he said. “CBO found we kept our promise and then some… (CBO) debunks the idea that immigration reform is anything other than a boom to our economy and robs the bill’s opponents of one of their last remaining arguments. Immigration reform is not only the right thing to do to stay true to our nation’s principles, it will also boost our economy, reduce the deficit and create jobs.”

And while the report found that unemployment rate would be slightly raised through 2020 due to an expanded labor force, the added population will lead to an increase in need for services and a longer term demand for labor; and will also lead to an increase in overall wages by 2025 and thereafter.

In a statement to ABC News, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the report “confirmed what most conservative economists have found: reforming our immigration system is a net benefit for our economy.”

“The CBO report offers encouraging evidence that the status quo is unacceptable and we can end it without burdening our already burdened taxpayers,” he said. “In fact, reduce the deficit over the next 20 years.”

The White House said in a statement that the report “made clear that passage of the immigration bill would not only reduce the deficit, it would increase economic growth for years to come.”

Last month the Social Security Administration’s Chief Actuary found the Senate’s proposed bill would strengthen Social Security’s longer term outlook.

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