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Conservative duel

Today, with a broadsword — i.e., a hefty special report on the would-be cost of an immigration overhaul — the conservation Heritage Foundation announced that if enacted the bipartisan legislation would cost taxpayers a whopping $6.3 trillion. Read it, but don’t weep (at least not yet).

For on the other side stands the American Action Forum, ready to slice through Heritage’s projected costs on “the amnesty for current unlawful immigrants” with its analysis. Last month, the ‘Burgh’s own Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the former head of the Congressional Budget Office, found that integrating the estimated 11 million immigrants here illegally would be a good thing …

A benchmark immigration reform would raise the pace of economic growth by nearly a percentage point over the near term, raise GDP per capita by over $1,500 and reduce the cumulative federal deficit by over $2.5 trillion.

Holtz-Eakin isn’t alone on the right.

Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform has been advocating for an immigration bill for awhile. In October in his keynote address at the Midwest Summit, he called immigration reform:

“… the most important thing to focus on if you’re concerned about the future of the country both as an economic power and as a serious leader of the world, or simply as a successful society. It’s not only good policy to have more immigrants in the United States — dramatically more immigrants than we do today, to having a path forward for those people who are here. It’s not only a good idea, but it’s good politics.”

But Heritage was successful in helping to defeat immigration legislation in 2007. Then Heritage estimated that social programs and entitlements for immigrants would add up to a measly $2.6 trillion. Now led by longtime Sen. Jim DeMint, Heritage is expected to wield clout on Capitol Hill.

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