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Economist: Immigration reform has unknown impact

PHOENIX — A Valley economist said the impact of immigration reform on Arizona’s economy is still unknown.

“States might incur additional costs if the immigrants are eligible for additional state programs,” said Jim Rounds. “While I think there are some positives on the revenue side, there’s expenditures related to it. A family of four would have to make a significant income before they’re net contributors to Arizona in terms of taxes paid versus benefits received. It’s not as cut and dry as the federal government is publishing. We have to be cautious about reading all of these optimistic reports about how much income is going to be generated.”

The Social Security Administration claimed a Senate bill to reform immigration would boost the retirement program’s trust fund and help the economy. The administration estimated the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill would add three million jobs, increase the country’s gross domestic product by 1.63 percent and shore up the social security fund over the next decade.

Rounds said those numbers appear overly optimistic.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, said allowing 11 million people who are largely low-skilled to access U.S. taxpayer-funded social benefits will cost more than it generates: Approximately $6 trillion in the next 50 years.

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