APRIL 10, 2013
Checking amnesty applications would cost $20 billion
WASHINGTON, DC – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano pledged last week that if Congress were to approve an amnesty, the illegal immigrants applying for legalization would bear the administrative costs. She told RealClearPolitics, "I can tell you that [in] advising the White House, there were ways to deal with [the costs] without getting a big number that CBO would have to score."
A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies estimates the administrative cost of properly vetting each amnesty applicant, and thus the necessary fee level. Although no bill has yet been introduced, looking at earlier amnesty proposals and existing screening systems suggests what would be involved.
Among the findings:
• The average cost to the government of processing an amnesty application would be about $2,000 per person.
• This is an average; assessing some applications would be more complex, and costly, than others.
• If 10 million illegal immigrants were to apply for amnesty, that would mean the government would need to recoup $20 billion in fees.
• This does not include any back taxes or fines that might also be required.
A fee of $2,000 per application would represent more than 20 percent of the annual per capita median income of illegal immigrant households. Any fee below that level, or any fee waivers (which are widely granted by US Citizenship and Immigration Services), would mean that taxpayers would bear at least part of the cost of processing amnesty applicants.
The complete report, by CIS Fellow David North, is online.