Republicans Claim Pathway To Citizenship Would Cost $40 Billion

Owen Poindexter
The GOP is muttering about how much it's going to cost to grant citizenship to undocumented immigrants: $40 billion in 2022 "just for Medicaid and Obamacare," according to Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee.

Jeff Sessions, top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, does not sound eager to create a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. PHOTO: Twitter
Just when comprehensive immigration reform looked like it was well on its way to President Obama's desk, Republicans have started muttering about how much it's going to cost to make all of those illegal immigrants citizens: $40 billion in 2022 "just for Medicaid and Obamacare," according to Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee.

"The net costs would be enormous and only increase once citizenship is granted," the office of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, top Republican on the committee, said in a statement Thursday.
This is some awfully selective accounting. I don't doubt that adding roughly 11 million citizens to the population will be costly, perhaps as much as $40 billion. But, well, there's enough wrong with this that I'm going to need a list:
1. Making undocumented immigrants citizens means that many more of them will have health insurance. Republicans are in the habit of taking costs associated with Obamacare, and acting like that money wouldn't be spent on anything else without Obamacare. We'll have to wait for the judgment of history, but it's likely that Obamacare will reduce the overall healthcare costs in the U.S., through drastically increasing the number of people on insurance and forcing insurance companies to spend 80% of their profits on providing care, not, say advertising and lobbying. Undocumented immigrants cost American taxpayers through emergency room visits (which they would have a lot less of if they had insurance).
2. It's not like we won't get any tax dollars from these new citizens. We don't collect taxes from undocumented immigrants, due to the undocumented part of things. Any pathway to citizenship that passes into law will likely include payment of back taxes. Once they are on the books, they will pay taxes going forward. How much? Well, that depends on how much they make. Some of them, freed from having to worry about getting deported, will go on to be very successful, making hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars, and creating some jobs along the way. How one would factor in the revenue from these potential new citizens, I have no idea.
3. Nothing Sessions is saying is specific to undocumented immigrants. Is there a reason that 11 million new citizens in the form of naturalized undocumented immigrants would cost more than 11 million citizens from some other source? If so, perhaps Sessions or another Republican on the Senate Budget Committee would like to explain. Yes, most of them are poor, and poor people cost the government more money, but by making them legal, we would give them a chance to rise out of that.

I'm willing to hear someone out on why a pathway to citizenship is a bad idea, but having your staff come up with a huge number and acting like that this comes with no benefits and is set in stone is a crappy form of argument.