Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation recently argued that the RAISE Act, a bill introduced by Senators Cotton (R-AR) and Perdue (R-GA), would save taxpayers billions by reducing lower-skilled immigration. Below I will argue that the RAISE Act does no such thing mainly because it does not actually increase skilled immigration, does not much alter the current education level of immigrants in the United States, and would result in removing at least 500,000 H-1B visas within a year of passage. Using the National Academy of Science (NAS) fiscal estimates, the RAISE Act is more likely to increase deficits over the next 75 years than to decrease them.
Rector makes two main claims in his post. The first is that “[b]ased on the National Academy of Sciences’ estimates, the average low-skill immigrant (with a high school degree or less) who enters the country imposes a net present value on taxpayers of negative $142,000.” A fiscal net present value (NPV) means that each immigrant in this education range would have to deposit $142,000 upon arrival that would earn 3 percent compounded annual interest to cover the full cost of social services that he or she will be expected to consume over the next 75 years. The second claim is that the RAISE Act could save taxpayers at least $1 trillion by cutting the flow of immigrants with a high school degree or less. The sections below will analyze these claims by using the National Academy of Sciences’ estimates and information from the Current Population Survey of the U.S. Census (CPS).