The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has analyzed the recently passed Senate immigration bill – S744, Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act – that reforms the nation’s immigration system and provides a path to citizenship. The CBO concluded that the new laws being proposed would cut close to $1 trillion from the federal deficit over the next two decades versus the $22 billion in discretionary spending required to implement the new laws. Much of the deficit reduction will come from tax revenue generated by the 10 million+ new legal residents and their dependents. The fact that the benefits far outweigh the costs is being used by supporters to try and push the bill through the Republican controlled House which has been very resistant to large scale immigration reform.
Some other interesting items from the bill include:
- Path to Citizenship: States that a lawful permanent resident who was lawfully present in the United States and eligible for work authorization for not less than 10 years before becoming a lawful permanent resident may be naturalized in three years upon compliance with specified requirements.
- Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2013( DREAM Act) – Minors under the age of 16 and in RPI (registered provisional immigrant) status can get a path to legal resident status if they have, (1) earned a high school diploma or obtained a general education development certificate in the United States; (2) acquired a degree from an institution of higher education or has completed at least two years in a program for a bachelor’s or higher degree in the United States, or has served in the Uniformed Services for at least four years and, if discharged, received an honorable discharge; and (3) has provided a list of each secondary school attended in the United States.
- Establishes a merit-based and points immigrant admissions system. Provides for: (1) 120,000 admissions per fiscal year, annual increases based upon specified admissions and employment conditions, and a maximum admissions cap of 250,000. Eliminates the per-country limit for employment-based immigrants and increases the per-country limit for family-based immigrants. Eliminates the visa category for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.
- Employment based Nonimmigrant Visas – Establishes a nonimmigrant H-1B visa (specialty occupation) cap of 115,000 (minimum) and a maximum of 180,000 visas in subsequent years based upon market conditions.
- Establishes a nonimmigrant Y-visa (renewable every 3 years) for an alien and their immediate dependents who invests (and maintains) at least $500,000 in U.S. residential real estate, of which at least $250,000 must be for a U.S. primary residence where such person will reside for more than 180 days per year
- Investing in New Venture, Entrepreneurial Startups, and Technologies. The bill establishes a nonimmigrant X-visa for a qualified entrepreneur: (1) who has secured at least $100,000 in investments from an accredited investor, venture capitalist, or government entity for such alien’s U.S. business; or (2) whose U.S. business has created at least three qualified jobs during the previous two years and has generated at least $250,000 in annual revenue in the United States.
The CBO in its analysis has also looked at the impact to Social Security with all these new workers. With the immigrant population being younger and hence have a longer working life, the US should see increase Social Security payroll taxes paid to the government (~$214 billion). The biggest increase in spending on government programs would on programs like the earned income tax credit (EITC) which provide assistance to low income workers.