The Washington Post
By Jennifer Rubin, Updated: May 31, 2013
Facts are stubborn things. No matter how hard the anti-immigrant forces spin, evidence of the economic benefits of immigration keeps pouring in.
National Journal reports:
Between 2002 and 2009, immigrants — citizens or not — contributed $115 billion more to Medicare than they used, according to a new study in Health Affairs, the reputable health policy journal. The U.S.-born, on the other hand, generated a $28 billion deficit. Immigrants, it turns out, may be helping to delay a budget reckoning.
There are plenty of potential reasons for the outsized contributions to Medicare, the authors write. The ratio of working-age to retirement-age adults is much higher for immigrants — 6.5 to 1 — than the U.S.-born — 4.7 to 1. Immigrants also have lower unemployment rates. And even undocumented immigrants may pay into the program through taxes tied to Social Security numbers with fake or borrowed names. All that means there are plenty of immigrant workers to pay into Medicare through payroll taxes.
There are also reasons that immigrants may use the program less. Some legal immigrants may not be eligible for Medicare because they don’t meet minimum residency or work requirements. And studies show that immigrants use less health care in general than the U.S.-born.
Well, there go more anti-immigrant attacks by the wayside. If immigrants are net contributors and if they work more than native-born Americans, what exactly is the problem letting them stay here?
When anti-immigration-reform advocates are honest, they tell us the problem is not faulty border-security measures or any other particular item in the immigration-reform plan by the Senate’s Gang of Eight. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) again confessed that a path to citizenship is a “poison pill.” In other words, the only attainable bill will never get the extremists’ support.
Even with perfect border security, Cruz still would not want to allow people here illegally of whatever duration a path to citizenship. As a law-and-order guy (as he keeps telling us), Cruz’s preference would be to deport millions of people (even extremists admit some will not leave willingly).
The absolutism of their position (no legalization for anyone) is to the advantage of the Gang of Eight. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is meeting with other Republicans, as he pledged to do, to strengthen border-security provisions and address other concerns that could make the bill acceptable to more colleagues. But there are those on the right who don’t care about the facts, economic or otherwise, and for whom border security is a ruse to stop a bill that would grant citizenship to anyone who came here illegally. For such voices, there is no study or deal that will suffice. If Rubio and the rest of the Gang of Eight are to succeed, they’ll just have to outvote their die-hard opponents.
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