CREDIT: America’s Voice
The Congressional Budget Office has finally released a “score” of the estimated costs associated with implementing the anti-immigrant SAFE Act, H.R. 2278, which passed out of the House Judiciary Committee in June. This bill – widely referred to by immigration reformers as the un-SAFE Act because it would destroy community trust and cooperation – is effectively a wish-list for anti-immigrant extremists in Congress. Now we know how much it would cost taxpayers to grant their wishes: nearly $23 billion over the next five years.
But that figure is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of both costs to the federal government and the sucker-punch it would deliver to the economy.
Unlike building a fence, the costs of implementing the SAFE Act isn’t a one-time expense: the unnecessary enforcement system created by the SAFE Act will only grow over time, and require new funding every year. For example, the Act would ensure that the Federal government foot the bill for qualifying state and local police officers that engage in unneeded immigration enforcement. Today, just a handful of localities qualify for this partnership. But over time many more would be able to sign up for partnerships under the SAFE Act. How many towns across the U.S. will sign up? Well, if the sponsors of the SAFE Act had it their way, probably all of them.
More importantly, though, the CBO score isn’t able to capture the cascade of costs that stem from the SAFE Act once it’s up and running. Expanding ICE to include 5,000 additional deportations officers in addition to other personnel will cost our country over $5 billion over the next five years. But the real costs of the SAFE Act come after these thousands of new employees are hired and working—holding and processing the deportations of millions of immigrants, who are vital members of our society and economy, would cost the US billions of dollars each year.
It is beyond cynical for House Republicans to feign outrage over government spending while proposing legislation that will require a dramatic increase in spending on immigration enforcement. Remember, we already spend nearly $4 billion more on immigration and border enforcement than on all other federal law enforcement activities combined. Instead of restoring some sense of budgeting order and priorities, the SAFE Act would double down on the current dysfunction. And to what end? The literally hundreds of billions we have spent on immigration enforcement without corresponding reforms has led us to this calamitous point.
Despite launching proposals like this which would increase counterproductive spending, Republicans are reportedly gearing up for a new round of attacks on federal spending by manufacturing a new crisis around raising the debt ceiling. This is of course the very definition of hypocrisy. But it is actually worse than it appears: as they cry crocodile tears over federal deficits, they have a bill right in front of them, The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, or H.R 15, that would decrease the deficit dramatically while supercharging the economy. If they were serious about solving immigration and boosting the economy, all they need to do is bring H.R. 15 to the Floor for a vote. America is waiting.