CBO report on S. 1615, Dream Act of 2017, as introduced in the Senate on July 20, 2017
December 15, 2017


S. 1615 would allow certain noncitizens—namely, inadmissible or deportable aliens—who arrived in the United States before the age of 18 to receive lawful permanent resident (LPR) status under certain conditions. If they met further qualifications—related to education, employment, or uniformed service—the bill would permit them to remove the conditional basis of their LPR status, making them eligible to naturalize.

CBO estimates that S. 1615 would provide lawful immigration status and work authorization to around 2 million people who otherwise would be physically present in the United States but lacking such legal authority. The bill would affect direct spending by conferring eligibility for federal benefits—health insurance subsidies and benefits under Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), among others—provided that those applicants met the other eligibility requirements for those programs.

S. 1615 would also affect federal revenues: The increase in the number of workers with employment authorization would affect receipts of individual and corporate income taxes and payroll taxes. Newly authorized workers also would become eligible for some refundable tax credits (included in the spending total below).

CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that enacting S. 1615 would increase direct spending by $26.8 billion over the 2018-2027 period. Over that same period, CBO and JCT estimate that the bill would increase revenues, on net, by $0.9 billion—a decline in on-budget revenues of $4.3 billion and an increase in off-budget revenues of $5.3 billion.

In total, CBO and JCT estimate that changes in direct spending and revenues from enacting S. 1615 would increase budget deficits by $25.9 billion over the 2018-2027 period, boosting on-budget deficits by $30.6 billion and decreasing off-budget deficits by $4.7 billion over that period. Pay-as-you-go procedures apply because enacting the bill would affect direct spending and revenues.

CBO also estimates that providing higher education assistance for newly eligible people under S. 1615 would cost $1.0 billion over the 2018-2022 period; such spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds.

CBO and JCT estimate that enacting S. 1615 would increase net direct spending by more than $2.5 billion and on-budget deficits by more than $5 billion in at least one of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.

This bill contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. Some state and local colleges and universities may experience increased enrollment as a result of this bill, but any associated costs would not result from intergovernmental mandates.

Posted by Nolan Rappaport