Senate GOP: Gang of Eight Deal Could Cost Trillions in Welfare

Senate GOP: Gang of Eight Deal Could Cost Trillions in Welfare

Senate Budget Committee Republican staff on Thursday released a description of what they claim is a “major flaw” in the immigration reform plan being pushed by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight”–a loophole that will end up being a multi-trillion dollar entitlement spending increase, with the burden falling on American taxpayers.

“According to what has been publicly reported about the Gang of Eight’s forthcoming immigration bill, there appears to be a major flaw that could allow millions of illegal immigrants to access federal welfare benefits and poverty programs,” the GOP Budget Committee staff wrote in a statement to media. 

“Specifically, there is nothing in the framework to apply federal public charge law to those in the country illegally before they are granted legal status. What this means is that the bill would create an end-run around federal law: individuals in the country illegally could receive legal status without having to demonstrate financial self-sufficiency.”

The statement adds that the Senators in the Gang of Eight “have suggested that cost will not be an issue because amnestied illegal immigrants will not be eligible for certain public aid and welfare programs during a temporary period of probationary legal status (although even this is in growing doubt given the outcome of the relevant vote during the recent consideration of the Senate budget).”

“But, crucially, once this status ends and they become eligible for green cards, those who illegally immigrated will have access to a wide array of public assistance programs,” they wrote. 

“Green card holders are currently eligible for Medicaid, TANF, Supplemental Security Income, child care assistance, food stamps, and a variety of other welfare benefits and public aid programs. The Budget Committee Republican staff estimates that costs could be upwards of $40 billion in 2022 alone, just for Medicaid and Obamacare. The long-term unfunded liability for Obamacare would grow another $2 trillion.”

The statement notes that existing federal law is being overlooked in the rush to pass comprehensive immigration reform: “The net costs would be enormous and only increase once citizenship is granted (and would extend to our nation’s retirement programs as well). Additionally, during their probationary status, there are still a number of ways previously illegal immigrants could draw means-tested public aid for their households–which is the reason why federal law deems all immigrants likely to be a public charge inadmissible to the country regardless of whether they are applying for temporary, permanent, or any other form of legal status.”

Read the whole statement here.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s spokesman Alex Conant responded to that analysis by saying: “Since we don’t yet have a legislative proposal, it’s not possible to come up with anything resembling an accurate calculation about the potential fiscal impact of bipartisan immigration reform. Obviously we share concerns about the potential fiscal impact of changes to our immigration system, which is why we will ask for an in-depth CBO analysis to inform debate around the bipartisan proposal. Senator Rubio has been clear that he will only support legislation that prohibits undocumented immigrants from receiving any Federal benefits, and in our negotiations, the Democrats have gone along with that demand – even agreeing to a partial repeal of Obamacare to bar undocumented immigrants benefits. In the long-term, there’s no question that modernizing our broken legal immigration will be very good for our nation’s economy.”


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