John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Right Bet on the Future

Posted on June 19, 2013


The Congressional Budget Office used dynamic scoring to predict how the immigration bill now winding its way through Congress would impact the deficit.

That must really piss off conservatives who have long demanded that the CBO use that scoring method (which looks beyond numbers and tries to predict future behavioral changes) to predict how tax cuts would actually bring in more revenue.

The Heritage Foundation, which has long been on the forefront of demanding that the CBO use dynamic scoring, released its own analysis a few weeks ago that came up with far different conclusions.

The CBO believes that immigration will lead to more economic growth and help to close the deficit by a trillion dollars. The Heritage Foundation believe that all of these new immigrants, once they become citizens will immediately start collecting welfare and add to deficit by multiple trillions of dollars.

The truth is probably somewhere in between.

Studies show that some immigrants will collect welfare once they become citizens. They also show that there is a greater likelihood of the children and grandchildren of new citizens going on welfare than the actual citizens themselves.

But if I were to put my money on which side is closer to right, I would bet on the CBO.

History shows that immigration helps to lead to brisk economic growth. Both high-end workers and low-end workers provide a huge boost to our business sector and they always have.

The Irish built the rail lines and the canals in the late 19th century. German immigrants after the Second World War developed our space program. Jewish immigrants built the shops in New York. Italians helped to design and build the nation’s Capitol (as did slaves from Africa).

Mexicans provide the back-breaking labor across the country today (as do El Salvadorans, Hondurans and other Hispanics). Asians come to America and learn in engineering and mathematics departments and then, if we get lucky, get their green cards, where they help Silicon Valley to develop the latest products.

Without immigrant labor, this country would be an economic backwater. History proves that, over and over again.

Immigrants provide competition to those who are citizens. They work harder, they work for less, they don’t expect anything. They have no choice, because they can’t afford to go back home, and usually, the welfare state isn’t nearly as generous as the private sector.

The theory that people come to America to get our generous welfare benefits is kind of ridiculous. America doesn’t offer great welfare. It offers great opportunity. Immigrants don’t come here so they can live in a world of dependency. They don’t come here to rip off the system. They come here because they want a chance to make a living for themselves and their families.

The reason that some immigrant families end up on welfare is the same reason that many American families end up on welfare. Family breakdown, lack of economic opportunity and bad luck.

Our current immigration system goes out of its way to break up families. Indeed, about 200,000 kids are in foster care because their parents were deported by the INS. You think those kids have much a chance to stay off of welfare in the future?

Some Republicans worry about how these new immigrants will vote once they become citizens and that is their principle reason for not supporting reform. But I guarantee you that if we have an immigration system that keeps families together, provides economic opportunities for new immigrants, and gives them a chance to grasp the American dream, they will eventually become Republicans.

Immigrants don’t want to become wards of the state. They want a chance to gain the American dream. And when they do, they will give the Republican Party --the pro-family, pro-faith, pro-freedom, pro-economic growth party – a favorable look.

The CBO is making the right bet on the future. We know that because we have witnessed the past. And we know that immigrants are an essential part of the American experience. We can’t do it without them.