A picture of Representative Steve King
Steve K.
Republican IA 4

About Rep. Steve
  • Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    by Representative Steve King

    Posted on 2013-05-06

    submit to reddit

    Read More about Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    KING of Iowa. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the privilege of being recognized here on the floor of the United States House of Representatives and taking up the subject matter that I understand is going to begin this week with a markup in the United States Senate of a piece of legislation called Comprehensive Immigration Reform that has been advanced by the self-described Gang of Eight over in the Senate, four Democrats and four Republicans, a bill that they had dropped or introduced some couple of weeks ago, 844 pages all designed to solve the problem that we have here in the United States of illegal immigration and all the accommodations that have been made in efforts to, one, open our borders and open up our employment and open up our welfare systems and open up our public access to government services to people that are unlawfully present in the United States.

    {time} 2130 That's one side of the initiative. That's the Chuck Schumer side, Mr. Speaker. Then on the other side are those of us who, instead, argue that the rule of law has to count for something, that you can't be a nation unless you have borders, and if you don't determine what comes across those borders, then you can't call yourself a nation.

    I'd make the point that the most successful institution over the last couple of centuries has been the nation-state. Nation-states are formed around the lines of language and culture and national defense and civilization and economies. Language has been a primary component of it to which one can look at Western Europe, for example, and see where the lines are drawn around nation-states of common languages.

    But here we are in the United States. We're a different kind of a country. We are a Nation that has been benefited by the legal immigration that has come into this country from every donor civilization on the planet. Because of the magnet of the image of the promise of God-given liberty and freedom, people [[Page H2429]] from all over the world have aspired to come to America to become an American, to take advantage of these opportunities of this God-given liberty in order to be able to start a business, to get a job, to save, to invest, and to establish and build the American Dream, the American Dream which is encompassed within this philosophy that each generation of Americans should have an opportunity greater than the previous generation's whether it's the whole generation of Americans in the current time or whether it is a generation of Americans growing up in a household of their generational predecessors--their parents. Each generation should have greater opportunity than the previous generation.

    That's why our Founding Fathers, our forefathers--our predecessors-- came here to this country. That's why they fought and defended God- given liberty and the American civilization across the continents and across the planet: to defend our American way of life. The freedom that we have, the liberty that we have, the free enterprise capitalism, the strong faith and family values, the language that binds us together, all of those components come forth to create this assimilation concept. We are the Nation that has been built on--some say ``built by''-- immigrants. This is a Nation built by immigrants. True. This is a Nation of immigrants. True, Mr. Speaker. So is every other nation. Every other nation on the planet is a nation of immigrants--people have moved there; they've lived there; they've developed there; their children have been born there; and they built the nation that they're in.

    So we're not unique in the sense that we're a Nation of immigrants. We are unique in the sense that legal immigrants who come here can become American. They become American by embracing the American culture, American civilization, by understanding the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, by understanding the English language, by partaking in free enterprise capitalism, and by understanding that there is a uniqueness about being an American that gives us this vigor--this great vigor--that is an American vigor unique to the rest of the planet.

    It is because of the God-given liberties that we have, many of them in the Bill of Rights: freedom of speech, religion and the press, freedom to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances; the Second Amendment: the right to keep and bear arms; property rights in the Fifth Amendment; the right to be faced by your accusers in a court of law and be tried by a jury of your peers and no double jeopardy; the concept of federalism where the power is not specifically delegated to the Congress or to the President or to the judicial branch but devolved to the States or to the people respectively. Those are all pillars of American exceptionalism that make us a great, great Nation.

    People around the world have seen that, and they've seen this American vigor and the magnet of the image. These concepts are all wrapped up in the image of the Statue of Liberty. Around the world, when people see the Statue of Liberty, they think, Well, that would be nice to live in a country like that or they think, I have to go there. I have to go there and find out what I'm made of. I think that I can develop and realize my potential in a place like America better than anyplace else in the world.

    If you put out a beacon like that, if you put out the beacon of the Statue of Liberty and if that penetrates into countries all over the world, whether it be in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, across Asia, down through the Latin area, through the Middle East, to South America for that matter, to every continent on the planet, including Australia, but probably not so much Antarctica, people have come to America because they've wanted to realize their dreams within that rubric of the American Dream.

    That's what makes this a special country, and that's why America could engage in global conflicts as far back as 1898 in the Spanish- American War, which took us over to the Philippines, or why America could engage in a conflict like World War I, when we went over to save as much as we could--and succeeded to a great degree--of Europe from the heavy hand of the Kaiser at a cost of a lot of American lives--of a lot of lives, let me say, on the western side of that line--and freedom was preserved again for another generation until World War II came along.

    This was another challenge, and Americans rose up and met that challenge on two fronts. One of the pieces of wisdom about strategic warfighting is don't fight a two-front war. Well, America had to fight a two-front war in World War II. We had to fight our way back against Japanese imperialism across the Pacific, and we had to go to Europe and fight against the Nazis in World War II. That all happened simultaneously. Fighting a two-front war didn't work out so well for Hitler, but it did work out well for the United States--at a high price, but it worked out.

    Because of that, the American influence washed across the globe, and the United States had the only major undestroyed industry in the world. Our dollar became the method of currency for the globe. American industry penetrated into every corner of the globe, and American know- how and ingenuity was established across this planet. That's because of those pillars of American exceptionalism that I talked about, and it's because of the American spirit of ingenuity, that spirit of ingenuity, which is a beneficiary of those willing legal immigrants who came here because they realized that they could achieve their dreams better here than anywhere else.

    So the magnet of the American Dream has attracted the best and most vigorous people on the planet to come here. That's the America I was born into, and that's the America that those of us who were born here inherited. Many immigrants have come since that period of time to contribute to this American Dream and to help redefine this American Dream and to make us stronger and make us better.

    Now we've reached a time when the political thought in America seems to have lost its touch with rationality. We've watched as there has been a stronger movement on the part of the political machinery of the left, and we elected a President of the United States in 2008 that said to Joe, the plumber, Share the wealth. Share the wealth. You're making money. Give some of that to the guy that's not--not realizing that Joe, the plumber, needed all that he could earn and that he needed more opportunity than that, not less; thinking that the now President of the United States apparently believes, if you're in business, if you've invested some capital or some sweat equity or both, that somehow you're capitalizing on your customers who are viewed, I believe, by the White House as victims of that free enterprise system and that somehow you have achieved your success unjustly. The implication is that the entrepreneurs have collected the proceeds of the sweat of somebody else's brow rather than their own, have collected the proceeds of the sweat of somebody else's sweat equity, brain equity, creativity, innovation, work ethic rather than their own.

    Truthfully, Mr. Speaker, any of us has the opportunity in this country to generate an idea. We have the opportunity to start a business. We have an opportunity to hire people to help us with that business, and we have an opportunity to buy, sell, trade, make, gain, and earn profit. The beauty of a free enterprise system is that, if someone is making too large of a margin, if their profits are excessive, we should have plenty of entrepreneurs who will see that as an opportunity and will generate a competing business that will go into that marketplace where there is a margin of profit that is high enough to attract that kind of investment, and they would take part of that profit out, and each one of those competitors that would materialize within that marketplace, the competition, would eventually take those prices down so that the profit margins of the entities that are making a lot of money would be reduced, not eliminated. We want them all to make money, but at the same time, the consumers benefit because the competition drives the prices down.

    {time} 2140 That's the concept of free enterprise. That's the concept of free enterprise capitalism. That's what Adam Smith wrote about so accurately and so succinctly when he wrote ``The Wealth of Nations'' and published it in 1776. It [[Page H2430]] has been a foundation of American thought and the American Dream. It has been a foundation of American enterprise and the foundation of America's economic system. And if one is taking the naturalization test and the question comes--there are little glossy flashcards on how you study this that USCIS puts out, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. You can pick it up and it will say, ``Who is the Father of our country?'' The answer is: George Washington. ``Who emancipated the slaves?'' The answer is Republican, Abraham Lincoln. That's just a little reminder there, Mr. Speaker, for the 10 percent or 12 percent of this population that seem to forget that.

    Another question: ``What's the economic system of the United States?'' You snap that flashcard around and it says, ``free enterprise capitalism.'' That's the foundation of our economy.

    This economy has attracted people from all over the globe, and I recall that Professor Milton Friedman, one of the most respected economists in the history of not only the world, but the United States of America, a professor at the University of Chicago, a very well respected institution, made this statement: An open borders policy is not compatible with a welfare State.

    Here we are, Mr. Speaker, and we live in a welfare State, and we have an open borders policy. The welfare State and the open borders policy are being promoted, pushed and advocated by the President of the United States. The President who has--even though there was a minor little change made to welfare reform here on the floor of this Chamber in the mid-nineties. When the Republicans took the majority in 1994, the welfare reform came in 1995 or 1996, one of those 2 years, Bill Clinton, the President, at least twice vetoed welfare reform. ``Welfare to work'' was the mantra of the day.

    There was only one component of welfare to work that actually was welfare to work. There are over 80 different means-tested Federal welfare programs in the United States today. There is not a single person in America that can list you those welfare programs from memory, which should be a pretty strong indicator there's not a single person in the United States that could also tell you how those 80 different means-tested welfare programs will affect the way people act, whether it encourages them to go to work or encourages them to quit their job; whether it encourages them to get married or whether it encourages them to get a divorce; whether it encourages them to raise the children within the home, or whether it encourages them to not kick them out on the street, or horribly, potentially, get an abortion.

    How do all of these 80 different means-tested welfare programs interact with each other and what is the net result of which direction our society goes? Let alone the question on each precious individual. How do they act and react towards all these programs that are here? This is America. The huge magnet of the welfare state is attracting people to come to the United States to tap into the welfare system much differently than back in the day when people came here to have access to God-given liberty, that vision within the Statue of Liberty that just said to them, Come here. You can work. You can earn. You can save. You can invest. You can buy, sell, trade, make gain, and you can make do and you can make profit and you can make a fortune in the United States of America.

    That message is now clouded. Sure, there's opportunity here, but the taxes and the regulations are higher, higher than they've been in a long time. And the taxes and regulation drain the energy off of the entrepreneurs at the same time that the welfare state is regulating and attracting people off of the work rolls onto the welfare rolls.

    Years ago, Steve Moore, who is now one of the public commenters and a much published author--you'll see him on television a good number of times. He was with The Cato Institute at the time, I believe, and he was a founder and an original executive director of the Club for Growth. He said in words pretty close to this: People will do what you pay them to do.

    If you pay them not to work, they won't work. If you pay them to stay home, they'll stay home. If you pay them if there's not a father in the home, there at least officially will not be a father in the home, although you'll have visitation going on, and you'll have more children. If you pay for them to have children at home without a father, that's what they will do. It's a logical thing for people to react to the negative incentives that come from government.

    So with that foundation, Mr. Speaker, it was interesting for me to pick up the executive summary of the special report dated May 6, 2013. It's the Heritage Foundation report written by Robert Rector and Jason Richwine, Ph.D., and it's titled, ``The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer.'' Well, this may be the third time that Robert Rector and the people he's worked with will have saved America from a disaster.

    Robert Rector was a central player in writing the language of ``welfare to work'' back in 1995 and 1996. He wrote it very tight, and he wrote it in such a way that it prohibited the President of the United States from suspending the work component of TANF, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The only component out of the 80 different means-tested programs that had actually required work, they made sure that an executive that wanted to give license to people to use the program but not follow the directive of Congress, the law, would be taken away, and that the President couldn't just simply by whim or executive order or edict violate the law and eliminate the work component to TANF, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

    But look what President Obama has done by his executive edict: he's suspended the only work component that existed that was in one of the 80 different means-tested Federal welfare programs, TANF, in violation directly of the specific statute that was written then.

    Now, Robert Rector came back to us again in 2006 or so and wrote another report, and that's the report that told us about the cost of illegal immigration and what it meant to our society and our culture and our civilization. I believe that that report was instrumental in America waking up and coming to an understanding that there was a lot bigger equation than the simple buzz words of ``we have to bring them out of the shadows, but what are you going to do about the 11 or 12 million that are here?'' It's curious to me that number hasn't changed except has dropped by a million since 2006.

    When I came to this Congress, I thought that the number of illegals in America was someplace in the neighborhood of 20 million, the judgement of those that we knew were here, plus a calculation of those that we knew were coming here, minus those that were going back home and those that are deceased. That came to a number that I thought approached 20 million people or more, and yet now we're hearing, in the time that I've been in Congress, more than a decade, 12 million illegals in America has now been reduced to 11 million illegals in America. All the while, the only thing that has changed in the dialogue of the left and the open borders people has been, Well, we can't deport--they used to say 12 million people. We can't line up all the buses and load up 12 million people. Now they've changed their dialogue.

    Remember the people that were advocating that we needed to do something about man-caused global warming? They've changed their phrase now to be ``man-caused,'' or else ``climate change.'' ``Global warming'' has become ``climate change.'' Twelve million people that couldn't be rounded up and put on buses now becomes 11 million people. What happened to that other million? Especially when we have a pretty good measure that they're coming across the border at a rate of something like 4 million a year. If that number has been reduced by half and maybe today it's 2 million people, that's still a lot of people. The cumulative effect of this population that's growing in the United States, it's not going down from 12 million; it has to be going up from 12 million. If it's not, we have a problem that's solving itself, Mr. Speaker. Yet, a pragmatic viewpoint is not going to be something that the people on the other side of this argument ascribe to because they have an agenda that's a little bit different than, I think, the practical application of what's good for the United States of America.

    [[Page H2431]] {time} 2150 Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation in his report that came out today, May 6, 2013, lays out some of these points economically. I can talk about the cultural, the constitutional, the rule of law part, but he lays them out economically. He makes these points in this executive summary, that there are four different ways that federally funded benefits are distributed.

    One is in direct benefits. That's the form of Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and workers comp. That's the direct benefits component of it.

    The second one is the means-tested welfare benefits, the 80 different Federal means-tested welfare benefits. That totals around $900 billion a year in welfare. That provides cash for food, housing, medical, and other services. There's about 100 million people in the means-tested welfare system, and that could be Medicaid, food stamps, earned income tax credit, public housing, supplemental Social Security income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. That's the one work component that I talked about; President Obama has removed the work requirement. Now it's just another welfare program.

    So there's two categories: direct benefits; the second category, means-tested welfare benefits.

    The third category, public education, which is costing an average of about $12,300 annually per pupil.

    And the fourth benefit is population-based services, which include fire services, police services, parks, and those kinds of things that it takes for people to have a way to live in this society.

    Of those four categories then, people use them, if they are legally here or illegally here, and often they will, the people who are here working here illegally will pay taxes. It's an honest thing. But they're also drawing down public benefits.

    So if I would draw some numbers off of the Rector report, Mr. Speaker, the average household of an illegal household will draw down $31,584 a year in public benefits. But if the household is headed by a college graduate, the difference is instead they will pay taxes and draw down some benefits, but they will have a net contribution of $29,250 a year. Look at the difference; it's $60,000-plus. The average dropout, a household headed by a high school dropout, without regard to their status, legal or illegal, they will have a net cost of $35,113 a year. They'll pay in taxes, and they'll draw down benefits, and the average net cost to the taxpayer is $35,113.

    The average illegal household, however, and the average has a 10th grade education, the average household headed by someone who is unlawfully present in the United States, there'll be a net cost to the taxpayer of $14,387. Now why is that so cheap? Well, it's because the law blocks access to many of these programs; and if and when they are legalized, they start to have access to these programs.

    Now it's true that if you look at the proposal of the 844-page bill delivered by the Gang of Eight, the average illegal household during the interim phase of the kick-in over the next 13 years, actually they'll tap into the government a little bit less, about $3,000 a year less than the $14,387. It'll be $11,455. That'll be the net cost per household. But once they are legalized, the average, I call it the post-interim household, will be drawing down a net cost of $28,000 a year, and the average retirement cost is going to be $22,700 a year.

    So the current law, under current law, illegal households are a net cost to the taxpayer today, under current law, of $54.5 billion a year--$54.5 billion a year. If we go into an interim phase, if the bill in the Senate is passed, then it's going to be an annual cost--it's less, remember I said--of $43.4 billion a year, and that's through that phase over the next 13 years. But after that, it legalizes a lot of people, around 33 million people according to NumbersUSA, and I'm not sure that's the number Rector is using, but it legalizes a lot more people, and they have access to a lot more public services, a lot more of that borrowed money from China that goes in to fund the welfare state that Milton Friedman talked about, and now after that interim phase, 13 years down the road, the post-interim phase, the net cost to the taxpayer--net--$106 billion a year. And into the retirement phase for the same generation of them, the net cost to the taxpayer is $160 billion a year.

    So it boils down to this in the Heritage study that was released today, a lifetime summary, it's this: that those who are here today that are unlawfully present in the United States will be collecting $9.4 trillion over their lifetime. They will pay $3.1 trillion in taxes, and they'll have a net benefit of $6.3 trillion as far as the collections that they would have from the taxpayer.

    What nation in its right mind would go down a path like this and try to convince Americans that somehow this is an economic development situation? I go to page 3 of the executive summary, Mr. Speaker, and Robert Rector makes this point: At every stage of the life cycle, unlawful immigrants, on average, generate fiscal deficits (benefits exceed taxes). Unlawful immigrants, on average, are always tax consumers; they never once generate a ``fiscal surplus'' that can be used to pay for government benefits elsewhere in society. This situation obviously will get much worse after amnesty.

    That, Mr. Speaker, is the bottom line on the Rector report. That's the economic analysis. I know that there is a competing analysis out there. I would submit that that competing analysis, which I've read, conflates the terms ``legal'' and ``illegal,'' and it calculates the economic benefit but not the full cost. This study is a study that has been through the mill before. The principles that it was founded upon have been analyzed before, have been tested before. And yes, there will be those who will seek to discredit this, but I would say to them, step back, take an objective look, and ask yourself the question: Even though you might believe that historically large numbers of legal immigrants coming into the United States have developed themselves economically and fit into the economic component of the United States, even though you might believe that--and I do believe that, Mr. Speaker. A hundred years ago, this country had a need for skilled and unskilled labor, an educated and uneducated workforce, but today it's a different world. Today it's a technological world. Today it requires an education. It requires technical skills.

    We have a completely adequate supply of low and unskilled workforce. In fact, we have an oversupply of low and unskilled workforce. In every category that shows the highest levels of unemployment, we also see that those with the highest levels of unemployment are in the lowest and unskilled workforce. This isn't 1900. This is 2013. America needs educated people, talented people, people who contribute to the economy and pay a net increase in taxes over their lifetime so this economy can grow; and to take on the load of funding people who would come here without skills and without prospects of those skills is a foolish thing to do from an economic perspective.

    There will be those who say maybe so, but the next generation will far surpass. This is a multigenerational investment, to which Robert Rector says, no; even if the second generation all graduated from college, if they all turned in this ability to have an average college surplus of $29,250, they still could not pay back the deficit of $6.3 trillion. And all of them are not going to go to college. About 13 percent will.

    So that's a quick summary of the Rector study. I appreciate your attention and the privilege to address you here on the floor.

    I yield back the balance of my time.


  • submit to reddit
  • Register your constituent account to respond

    Constituent Register