In fielding a question about whether the Heritage Foundation study accounted for the economic benefits that immigrants can bring to the economy, Norquist reconciled his conservative leanings with an admission that the 2013 Heritage report was a re-do of the 2007 study “done by one guy” where “much of the cost that they attribute are there anyway… forty percent of the cost are citizens now so they’re throwing in costs that are already there.” With regards to the belief that Americans are bearing the brunt of new immigrant adults and children, Norquist responded that the welfare system has been insufficiently created as it is even for the Native American population. He stated, “it’s a flawed entitlement program. It’s an argument against having children. It’s a bad argument for not having children, but it’s a good argument to fix the entitlement program.”
To the extent that the anti-immigrant voices has gained traction among Republicans, Norquist a certifiable Republican based on his far-right support of many conservative issues including his infamous no-new-taxes pledge, pointedly bashes the Heritage Foundation report, “Previous number are flawed just like the current one. [The report] added the cost of legal immigrants into the $6 trillion. They added the cost of a 5-year-old legal resident into the cost. It got worse, the quality of the work.” He went on to sharply criticize once vocal opponents who have come around on the issue of immigration reform because of the negative consequences that immigration restriction has created. He took the example of Lou Dobbs, “on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, [Dobbs] complained about immigrants coming into the country. And on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays, he complained about outsourcing. People whine about outsourcing. STEM education is one way to help that.”
In the nearly two-hour long hearing, Norquist was optimistic about the passage of an immigration reform bill. He was determined to emphasize that the “$2.7 trillion in gains” and “growth of the economy” would far outweigh the $18 billion “budgetary wash” that was cited in the Douglas Holtz Eakin study. While the original Heritage Foundation report released in 2006 had gained serious momentum among Republicans which ultimately helped to kill the 2007 immigration bill, Norquist’s speech serves to highlight the cold snap that the Heritage Foundation now faces from many prominent conservatives.