About 8 million immigrants living unlawfully in the US would initially gain legal status under sweeping legislation moving toward a vote in the Senate, the Congressional Budget Office said today. The CBO also said the bill would push federal deficits lower in each of the next two decades. The eagerly awaited report by Congress' non-partisan scorekeeping agency said the legislation would increase federal spending in the form of benefits for those gaining legal status, but those expenses would be more than offset by a rise in the labor force, increasing revenues. The CBO said deficits would fall by $197 billion across a decade, and by $700 billion in the following 10 years if the bill became law.
Supporters of the legislation said the report would add to the momentum behind a measure that toughens border security at the same time it holds out the hope of citizenship to millions who came to the United States illegally or overstayed their visas. The assessment came as the pace of activity increased at both ends of the Capitol. Challenged by protesters chanting "shame, shame," House Republicans advanced legislation to crack down on immigrants living illegally in the United States, at the same time the Senate lurched ahead on a dramatically different approach offering the hope of citizenship to the same millions.