It is absolutely stupefying that so many libertarians have no problem with granting citizenship to so many illegals who would be eligible for transfer programs. To ignore this as a fiscal issue is to ignore reality. In 2007, Robert Rector estimated that the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill would cost roughly $2.6 trillion. Remember that was before the gutting of welfare reform and the massive eligibility expansions under Obama.

During his charm offensive on talk radio, Rubio assured conservatives that under his plan the amnestied immigrants would not be eligible for welfare (except for Obamacare, a provision he says is concerning). However, that is only during the probationary period. All of them would then be eligible for a green card and citizenship (if they pay a fine and buy an English textbook, as if the executive will even enforce that), at which point they could receive welfare.

This is also something we need to keep in mind regarding any proposal to grant them a permanent legal resident status without any path to citizenship. I’m open to suggestions, but it’s hard to imagine how we could legally and politically firewall welfare benefits from such a large group that is granted permanent residence. Temporary migrant worker visas are one thing, but an entire constituency of PLRs with a massive legal advocacy arm is quite another.