CBO Report Undercuts the Gang of Eight: Illegal Immigration Will Continue Mostly Unchecked

| June 21 2013
John Walker

Reform Bill Will Only Reduce Illegal Immigration 25 Percent

As the Senate stumbles through amendments to the immigration reform bill, efforts to toughen the bill continue to fail.

Amendments meant to require border security before legalization have been cast aside. The bill remains a set of promises destined to repeat the mistakes of the last major immigration reform measure passed in 1986.

Meanwhile, the Gang of Eight that wrote the bill continues to spin a false tale meant to mislead voters. At the same time, a group of skeptics works to present the facts.

The two opposing sides clashed immediately this week when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported a set of findings on the bill. It contained dubious economic forecasts that failed to account for costs buried in the bill.

Nevertheless, the most serious finding strikes at the heart of immigration reform. The CBO reported that the Gang of Eight bill would only reduce illegal immigration by 25 percent.

The comments of two Senators – Republican Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey – delivered on the floor the Senate show how a member of the Gang of Eight (Menendez) and a reform bill skeptic (Sessions) portrayed the CBO report.

Menendez was engaged in frantic spin; Sessions relied on the facts. Here is a sample of what they said as juxtaposed in a report from the Center for Immigration Studies.

Senator Menendez:

“I come to the floor with even more good news about the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform proposal that is being debated before the Senate. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has confirmed that this legislation we are considering is good for the American economy.

“We in the Gang of Eight have spent months working on this bipartisan effort because we knew it was good for the United States. Now we have the official word from the Congressional Budget Office confirming that it will reduce our nation’s deficit and grow our nation’s economy.

“The Congressional Budget Office’s analysis shows that the bill will increase the U.S. gross domestic product by 3.3 percent in the first 10 years after its enactment, and 5.5 percent in the second 10 years after its enactment. This means that the bipartisan immigration reform we are debating in the Senate will actually grow our economy, not harm it as some of the ardent opponents have tried to argue.

“I have been saying this all along: Bringing 11 million people out of the shadows will increase our economic growth, and now we know by how much.”

Senator Sessions:

“The Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the immigration bill of the Gang of Eight confirmed in dramatic fashion our most significant concerns about the bill. Indeed, I would say, through the history of the movement of this bill through the Senate, this is the most dramatic event yet.

“Basically, it says these things in explicit phrases after careful analysis: Number one, it will reduce the wages of American citizens. Number two, it will increase unemployment in America. Number three, it will reduce GNP per capita in America.

“The growth in our economy will be reduced by the passage of this bill. It concludes that the flow of illegal immigrants will not be stopped, but will only be reduced by 25 percent.

“So we are talking about a bill that is supposed to be the toughest ever, that is going to promote economic growth in America, a bill that is supposed to make us economically stronger and end illegal immigration in the future. It just doesn’t do that.”

Sessions describes the bill’s vast economic damage and its failure to stop illegal immigration. Menendez touts empty projections of economic growth. Sessions wins easily.

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