Norquist Study Makes Case for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

For supporters of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR), passage of this landmark legislation is more a hope than an expectation at this writing. Everything depends upon the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold the majority, albeit a fractious majority, riven by internal conflict between its traditional GOP and Tea Party factions. It’s anybody’s guess how this will play out when – and if – some version of immigration reform hits the House floor, later this summer.

Instead of debating the omnibus Senate bill that’s already passed, the House is expected to pursue a piecemeal legislative strategy that breaks immigration reform into bite-sized chunks. It’s seen as a way to avoid an up-or-down vote on a comprehensive immigration reform bill – one that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

And yet, some leading conservatives are urging House Republicans to take the comprehensive route to immigration reform. Among them is Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, an anti-tax lobbying organization. Although his influence has been on the wane in recent months, as increasing numbers of Republicans openly question his no-tax pledge, Norquist still has enormous credibility with the anti-tax Tea-Party wing of the Republican Party. He’s a “small government” conservative whose anti-tax credentials are beyond dispute: he may well hate taxes more than anyone in this country, and famously said he’d like to make the government so small that he could “drown it in the bathtub.”

In recent days, Mr. Norquist has been promoting a study of the economic effects of comprehensive immigration reform, one that could provide effective political cover for conservatives who would like to support CIR. [See: Key Components of Immigration Reform, prepared by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), 17.Jul.2013.]  Among its findings:

  • Pathway to citizenship – is estimated to “increase total United States employment by 123 thousand in 2014, increasing to 594 thousand net new U.S. jobs by 2018. Gross domestic product is expected to increase by $10.32 billion in 2014 and $49.93 billion in 2018… Employment and gross state product increase for all states and the District of Columbia.”
  • H1B program expansion – is estimated to “increase by 227 thousand jobs in 2014, and will continue to expand, with a net increase of 1.3 million jobs by 2045. Gross domestic product will increase by $22 billion in 2014 and more than $158 billion by 2045. Employment and gross state product is estimated to increase for all states and in all years from 2014 to 2045 as a result of H1B program expansion.”
  • W-1 visa program – is estimated to cause “a net increase in U.S. jobs of more than 40 thousand in 2014, and a total gain of 365 thousand jobs by 2045. Gross domestic product is expected to increase by $2.67 billion in 2014 and to rise by $31 billion over the baseline by 2045.”

Norquist’s argument assumes that House GOP members who oppose CIR will be swayed by the economic benefits of a broad-brush approach to immigration reform. Let us hope his assumption is correct; otherwise, the House border security lobby may follow the example of Senate Republicans, and condition their support for CIR upon even more border security spending. Should this come to pass, Mr. Norquist and other CIR supporters will have to adjust their economic benefit projections downward by several billion dollars.

Copyright © 2013, MURTHY LAW FIRM. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.