Immigration Bill’s Cost Pegged at $127B

Suzanne Gamboa, AP, August 22, 2006

The Senate’s immigration proposal would cost $49 billion over the next five years and $127 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The majority of the costs would be for increased enforcement, such as hiring more Border Patrol officers and building more detention facilities.

The legislation would offer a chance at citizenship for millions of immigrants. Spending on government benefits programs, including refundable tax credits for the working poor, would rise by $16 billion for the years 2007-11, and by $48 billion over the decade, the CBO said in a report released over the weekend.

Legalization of now illegal immigrants would increase spending on Social Security and Medicare benefits by $10.5 billion over the next 10 years, the CBO said. Eligibility by many of them for refundable earned income tax credits aimed at helping low-income families would cost another $24.5 billion.

The CBO forecast only modest increases in other popular benefit programs as a result of illegal immigrants and new guest workers acquiring legal status.

“We estimate that enrollment in child nutrition, Food Stamp and Medicaid programs … would each be about 2 percent to 3 percent higher in 2016 than under current law,” it said.

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The CBO estimated in a report last year that the House bill would cost about $1.9 billion over the five years beginning in 2006 and “substantial amounts” after 2010.

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