Jun 24 2013
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, released the following letter sent today to his Senate colleagues in both parties discussing how the doubling of guest workers and large increase in low-skill future immigration will adversely impact wages, particularly for lower-income Americans:
Wages for working Americans have been falling since 1999. 21 million of our citizens who want work are unable to find full-time employment. Nearly 1 in 2 African-American teenagers looking for a job cannot find one. Yet today at 5:30 pm the Senate will be voting on whether to limit debate on a 1,200 page substitute immigration bill that would further reduce the wages of job prospects for struggling Americans for years to come.
CBO’s recently-released score of S. 744 is clear: CBO estimates that average wages will be below current law projections for the next dozen years due to the large proposed increases in mostly low-skill legal immigration and guest workers. While CBO does not sort out the effects between immigrant and native born workers, research from Harvard’s professor Dr. George Borjas demonstrates that the native-born, especially African-American, work force will experience the sharpest decline – so in that sense the CBO predictions understate the extent to which today’s workers will see their wages drop.
Nothing in the Corker-Hoeven amendment that was merged into the 1,200 page substitute we are voting on today alters these distressing findings in any way.
CBO also found that unemployment rises between 2014 and 2020 and that per person Gross National Product would be lower than current law from 2014 through 2030.
Can any one of us justify to our constituents – especially those who are struggling the most – passing a bill that will depress their incomes and job prospects for the next decade and beyond? Even in the second decade wages will remain lower than if the bill had never been passed at all.
To whom do we owe our fidelity as Senators? The hardworking people of this country or the special interests groups whose provisions are tucked in every page of this bill? Now is a moment of great import for our chamber. Will Republicans and Democrats set aside the political maneuvering in our parties and do the right thing for our constituents?
Attached to this letter is a one-pager on key findings from the score (including a predicted increase in on-budget deficits and an increase in visa overstays). Also attached are two of CBO’s charts on the negative economic impacts.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me, or have your staff contact the Budget Committee’s Chief Economist Bill Beach, or my Chief Counsel Danielle Cutrona.
Very truly yours,
Key Takeaways From CBO’s Report On The Immigration Bill
The Congressional Budget Office tells us that, under the Gang of Eight immigration bill, “the average wage [in the United States] would be lower than under current law over the first dozen years.” CBO goes on: “S. 744 would cause the unemployment rate to increase slightly between 2014 and 2020.” This is due in large part to the planned inflow of immigrants willing to work for lower wages than native-born workers, along with the sheer number of these immigrants (the population of which, CBO notes, is comprised of “a greater number of immigrants with lower skills than with higher skills”).
The bill would increase welfare spending by $259 billion in the first 10 years and increase on-budget deficits by $14 billion. Deficits can only be shown to fall, as proponents of S. 744 have claimed, if dedicated Social Security revenues are used to pay for non-Social Security spending. Payroll taxes are fully obligated to pay for Social Security benefits that will be claimed in the future by those given legal status under the legislation. If those payroll tax revenues aren’t counted, the on-budget deficit worsens across the first 10 years, not improves. What is more, the most substantial costs under the legislation will occur in the out-years, particularly in the forms of trillions of dollars of increased long-term entitlement spending for Medicaid, Obamacare, Social Security, and Medicare. CBO’s score also did not calculate the local and state expenses—everything from educational costs to state health programs—that will prove substantial. Nor were they able to estimate the costs to private employers that are mandated under this legislation. If the cost of state, local, and private mandates are added to the federal government’s substantial new expenses, the total cost of S. 744 would be much greater than CBO assumes.
CBO estimates this bill would allow in an additional 7.5 million future illegal immigrants, an average of 350,000 per year through 2033. CBO writes: “Other aspects of the bill would probably increase the number of unauthorized residents—in particular, people overstaying their visas issued under the new programs for temporary workers.”
This bill would result in a massive increase in the future flow of legal immigration. Under current law, the nation would allow 22 million new immigrants over the next two decades. CBO finds this figure would grown by an additional 16 million. Including the legalized illegal immigrants, 30 million individuals would receive legal status by 2023 and 46 million by 2033.