Analyst: Exec Amnesty Will Harm Economy More than Temporary Homeland Security Shutdown

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

As Democrats continue to block the House’s Homeland Security funding bill over President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty, one economist is arguing that Obama’s executive amnesty may be more costly to the economy than temporarily shutting down the Homeland Security Department.

Writing in Forbes, Jeffrey Dorfman noted that in the most recent government shutdown, “87 percent of DHS employees kept right on working thanks to being classified as essential, while only 13 percent were sent home.” He mentioned that “examples of the parts of DHS that were shut down the last time include research and development of new security screening technology, non-disaster grant programs for state and local governments, and civil liberties training programs for local law enforcement personnel.”

“Does anybody really think we cannot survive without these activities for a few weeks?” Dorfman asks.

But Obama’s executive amnesty is, according to Dorfman, “a step toward two things that will do billions of dollars in damage to our economy”–hurting American workers and imposing more costs on state and local governments:

First, providing millions of immigrants with work permits will expand the supply of labor leading to lower wages for all workers. These impacts are likely to hit lower wage workers particularly hard. Second, by removing the threat of deportation (small as it may have been) the amnesty program will lead more immigrants to form families and have children. This will impose enormous costs on state and local governments who provide the vast majority of funding for K-12 education.

Further, the Obama administration acknowledged that illegal immigrations would be eligible to receive tax benefits and refunds, which, as Dorfman notes, “would cost “somewhere in the $5-20 billion range annually with a larger cost possible the first year as newly legalized immigrants can claim back credits for multiple years” in which they were working illegally.

Dorfman argues that though a “federal district court has temporarily blocked implementation of the executive amnesty, Republicans should stand firm and refuse to pass a DHS spending bill without strong language to stop the agency from legalizing millions of immigrants.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), though, indicated on Tuesday that he will allow a vote on a “clean” Homeland Security funding bill before Friday’s funding deadline.

A majority of the states sued the federal government over Obama’s executive actions, arguing that it would impose financial burdens on their states. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen found last week that the states had standing because at least one state, Texas, would “sustain irreparable harm” due to Obama’s executive amnesty.

Indicating that Texas would not be the only state whose finances would be burdened by Obama’s executive amnesty, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, the nonpartisan group that analyzes issues for California lawmakers, recently released a report that found Obama’s executive amnesty would strain the state’s budget.

“The benefits received by undocumented immigrants through these programs are almost entirely funded by the state and would therefore result in additional General Fund costs of an unknown amount,” the report concluded. “The General Fund costs to provide state–funded benefits to this population are unknown at this time.”

Dorfman ultimately concludes that “taxpayers should support the Republicans in blocking funding for President Obama’s executive action on immigration.”

“Amnesty might have an appeal for several humanitarian reasons, but that is no reason that taxpayers and American workers should be stuck with the bill,” he writes.