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Conservative group's price tag on immigration reform criticized

According to a study by a conservative think tank, the immigration law overhaul that has been proposed would come with a $6.3 trillion price tag. However, the study has been widely criticized -- even by conservatives -- for being vastly over-stated. The report claims to reveal the cost of implementing the immigration reform plan that was recently unveiled by a group of senators known as "The Gang of Eight."

The plan involves many changes to the currently immigration policy, including a path to citizenship for many of the approximately 11 million immigrants who are currently in the country illegally. The plan makes the pathway contingent on tightened border security and was drafted by a group of bi-partisan lawmakers. In a report called "The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer," the Heritage Foundation claimed that the reform would come at a major costs to taxpayers.

Heritage claims that the most expensive aspects of the plan will be associated with President Obama's health care law and other entitlements like Medicare and Social security. Additionally, the group added costs associated with access to schools, law enforcement, parks and roads into the calculation. The report admits that the reform will actually reduce the government's deficit for the first 13 years because the plan does not entitle former undocumented immigrants to benefits like Social Security and Medicare during this time. It will be after the 13 years have passed that the plan will become costly, the group claims.

On the other hand, lawmakers who support the plan have publicly criticized Heritage's report, saying that it ignores the economic benefits of providing a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants who are currently living in the country. Other policy experts have cautioned that Heritage's report is full of errors and grossly exaggerated. A Heritage spokesperson said that the group does believe in immigration reform, but believes that it should be done in a "step-by-step approach" instead of a large bill.

Source: ABC News, "Critics Doubt Immigration Overhaul Would Cost Trillions," Abby Phillip, May 6, 2013

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