For the parents of U.S. citizens who benefit from President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, the value of cash welfare benefits they receive will be greater than the amount of money they pay out in new taxes, according to a study by a conservative researcher.
Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, presented the results of his study Tuesday in testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
In the study, Rector focused specifically on a program Obama announced in November that would grant temporary deportation deferrals and work permits to illegal immigrant parents who have at least one U.S.-born child and have lived in this country for the last five years.
The program, known as DAPA, allows work authorization and protected deportation status for three years, but Rector assumes the program will last in perpetuity unless a future president decides to undo it.
Based on that assumption, if 3.97 million illegal immigrant parents earn legal protection, as Rector estimates, they will earn about $1.3 trillion in Social Security and Medicare payments over their lifetime, he says.
They also immediately are eligible for two cash welfare programs: the earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit, and can retroactively apply for those benefits for the last three years. Together, Rector reports, the two tax credits can provide up to $7,460 in cash benefits each year for a lower-income family with two children.
Rector calculates the $7.8 billion in total tax credit cash payments to DAPA recipients per year is greater than what newly “on the books” working immigrant parents would pay in taxes.
Assuming about half of the DAPA eligible population already formally works and pays taxes, the second half of that group who becomes “on the books” will add $7.2 billion per year in Social Security and federal income tax revenues.
In addition, DAPA beneficiaries immediately receive Social Security numbers upon being accepted into the program.
They cannot get coverage under the Affordable Care Act, however. But Rector, in his research, assumes that the immigrant parents will stay here long enough—continuing to reapply for the program—to eventually earn health care benefits.
“I am costing out the program as if it continues operating forever,” Rector told The Daily Signal. “And under that assumption, if we keep them here indefinitely, the idea that they would never get Obamacare, or Medicare, or Medicaid or other government benefits is just completely implausible. DAPA is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Obama’s immigration programs are on—at least—temporarily hold due to a federal court order.
Below are two other findings in Rector’s study:
- The average DAPA eligible family already receives around $6,600 per year in welfare benefits prior to Obama’s executive action, including money from Medicaid and the Women, Infants and Children food program.
- The cost of retroactive earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit benefits from the last three years for those eligible for DAPA could be as much as $23.5 billion.