During the October 1-2 weekend, I attended the Writers’ Workshop in Washington D.C. The event takes place annually and is a great opportunity for immigration reform patriots, who are spread widely across the United States, to share ideas and energize each other.
Ed Rubenstein, a highly regarded economist and a friend of long standing, delivered the forum’s most compelling presentation. Titled Government Deficits and Immigration, Rubenstein, who earned a B.A. in economics from Johns Hopkins and a M.A. in public finance from Columbia University, addressed the relationship between immigration and the deficit. Among his shocking findings were that this is the first economic “recovery” in post-war history where immigration exceeds job creation.
Calling it one of “the greatest stories never told,” Rubenstein discussed the nexus that links immigration, unemployment and the federal deficit.
Rubenstein noted that the most extensive and authoritative analysis is still the 1997 National Research Council’s study The New Americans: Economic, Demographic and Fiscal Effects of Immigration.
In its report, the NRC analyzed fiscal impact of immigrant and native-born households in California. The study used households rather than individuals as the basic analytical unit to insure that benefits received by U.S.-born children of immigrants were included as part of the total cost of immigration.
The NRC found that the average immigrant household received $3,700 more in federal benefits than they paid in federal taxes, a deficit of $3,700 per year. The NRC also discovered a negative fiscal impact from immigration at the state and local level which, because of time restrains, Rubenstein did not have time to discuss.
For his presentation, Rubenstein updated the 15-year-old NRC figures to reflect subsequent spending and revenue growth. He found the deficit is now about $17,000 per immigrant household. Then, Rubenstein calculated (by multiplying 13 million by $17,000) that the federal “immigration deficit” totals $220 billion or 17 percent of the entire federal deficit.
Calling the immigration related deficit “a big chunk,” Rubenstein concluded by saying:
“It’s no longer just an immigration problem. It’s not even a poverty problem: in this economy many middle-class households pay less tax than they receive in federal services. It’s a population problem. We are all culpable.”