The High Cost of IRCA Amnesty

By Wayne Lutton
Volume 7, Number 4 (Summer 1997)
Issue theme: "The abuse of asylum and refuge"

Measuring the Fallout

The Cost of IRCA Amnesty after Ten Years

by David Simcox

CIS Backgrounder No. 1-97

Center for Immigration Studies

1522 K Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20005-1202

(202) 466-8185

In this study, David Simcox attempts to measure the major dollar costs associated with the amnesty program that was a key provision of the mis-named 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). Thanks to the amnesty program, which came within six votes of being killed in the House of Representatives, more than 2.7 million illegal aliens were permitted to remain in the United States and begin the process toward full citizenship.

Wayne Lutton, Ph.D., associate editor of The Social Contract and co-author, with John Tanton, of The Immigration Invasion, writes frequently on immi-gration and issues concerning American culture. Simcox finds that over the past ten years, amnesty has cost U.S. taxpayers $78.7 billion (substantially higher if measured in 1997 dollars), with costs still accumulating. Direct costs include estimates for 20 federal, state, and local assistance programs used by amnestied aliens, such as Medicaid, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, school breakfast and lunch programs, publicly assisted housing, job training, public education, criminal justice costs, and Earned Income Tax Credits, etc. Indirect costs include services for American workers displaced by amnestied aliens as well as education and other services provided to the children of amnestied illegals. According to Simcox, this represents a government subsidy of $29,148 for each illegal alien who enrolled in the amnesty program.

This report indicates that IRCA critics' fears were justifi