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Don’t Just Take Our Word For It

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"Don’t Just Take Our Word For It"

Conservatives Trash Anti-Immigration Reform Report

In 2007, the Heritage Foundation released an influential — though widely debunked — report claiming that immigration reform would cost the U.S. $2.6 TRILLION. While no one factor alone is responsible for the death of reform that year, the Heritage paper certainly helped kill it.

Well, “here we go again,” as Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) tweeted earlier today. Today, Heritage released an updated report with an even more fantastical claim: immigration reform with a path to earned citizenship (which the report and its authors falsely and repeatedly refer to as “amnesty”) will now cost $6.3 TRILLION over the next 50 years.

This time, however, something is different. It’s conservatives who are lining up to trash the Heritage report. In just the few hours the report has been out, influential conservatives have lined up to discredit Heritage’s way-too-bad-to-be-true claims:

  • The Cato Institute
  • Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform
  • The American Enterprise Institute
  • The Kemp Foundation
  • Doug Holtz-Eakin, prominent conservative economist and president of the American Action Forum
  • Haley Barbour, former Republican Nation Committee chairman and Mississippi governor, and current co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s immigration reform task force
  • Sen. Jeff Flake
  • Sen. John McCain
  • Sen. Marco Rubio
  • Rep. Paul Ryan

As conservatives also pointed out, Heritage’s current view is even at odds with its own past statements on immigration:

The new report contradicts the think tank’s 2006 position on immigration. Heritage then wrote,“the argument that immigrants harm the American economy should be dismissed out of hand” and urged for a comprehensive bill. “A lopsided, ideological approach that focuses exclusively on border security while ignoring migrant workers (or vice versa) is bound to fail.”

Earlier this year when ultra-conservative former Sen. Jim DeMint was appointed to head Heritage, some worried aloud that this would undermine the organization’s credibility:

The DeMint choice signals a shift toward more conservative activism from one of America’s largest think tanks and is sure to please conservative donors. But it’s not likely to provide donors the political results they want. Instead, it is likely to reduce the relevance of both DeMint and Heritage.

Indeed, the organized opposition to the Gang of 8 immigration bill appears to consist largely of the Heritage Foundation, racist hate groups like FAIR, and right-wing talk radio hosts. While these groups may continue to be influential with some segments of the Republican base, it’s clear that they are increasingly outside of the mainstream of both American society and even the GOP itself. In fact, a poll out just last week found that 83 percent of all Americans and 84 percent of Republicans favor a path to earned citizenship so long as immigrants pay fines, back taxes, and meet other requirements — in other words, exactly what is in the Gang of 8 bill.

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