Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Cost of Immigration Reform

The Washington Post reports today that the estimated cost of enacting the Senate's version of the immigration reform bill will reach $126 billion. A great deal could be saved, however, if the bill would focus on providing a legal means for immigrants to seek employment (i.e., work visas, employment verifications systems) and cut the superfluous border policing strategies, which are by far the most expensive measures in the bill and historically have proved to be the least effective measures to decrease unauthorized immigration.

Although not mentioned in the article, the U.S. could actually recover some of the costs of immigration reform *IF* workers were charged for their work visas. At the moment, undocumented immigrants pay between $2500-3000 (or more) to coyotes (illegal border escorts); it seems reasonable that the U.S. could charge immigrants directly for their visas and use those funds to offset other costs associated with reform.

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