Heritage’s Robert Rector Revives ‘The 33 Million’ Argument

(From left to right, Robert Lynch, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Steve Camarota, Robert Rector)

At a Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) debate on Wednesday, Heritage Foundation research fellow Robert Rector reiterated his argument that undocumented immigrants would be able to gain access to over 80 public benefits, bring in 33 million legalized immigrants, and that the “amnesty bill” would cost $6.3 trillion. Although widely panned, not least of which because Rector’s co-author Jason Richwine resigned, immigration restrictionists have highlighted the study to campaign against reform.

At one point Rector cited a Harvard economist and immigration skeptic George Borjas report that has been widely debunked, whereas other studies have shown that immigrants contribute a net positive to the overall economy. Borjas in a presentation given earlier this year even declared that his own empirical findings say “nothing at all” about U.S. immigration policy.

Rector and Center for Immigration Studies’ Steve Camarota contend that undocumented immigrants drive wages down and take away American jobs, but numerous studies have shown that undocumented workers actually complement native-born job skills. Not only do they elevate salaries, but they also create more jobs through entrepreneurship.

The Heritage study had been dismissed by conservatives since its release three weeks ago. Yet on Tuesday, NumbersUSA rallied for Rector’s cause by releasing a 16-state ad campaign against immigration reform indicated that 33 million new immigrants would take jobs away from native-born Americans.

Rector then brought up his claim that legalizing 33 million immigrants hurts the economy, but studies have shown that the undocumented population are already here so legalization would only affect 11, not 33 million immigrants.

Certain House Republicans still cite Rector’s numbers ahead of the upcoming debate in the House.