Amnesty for 700,000 illegal immigrants in the DACA program would open the door for 1.4 million more of their parents and relatives to enter the U.S., tripling their population and adding substantial costs to taxpayers, according to an immigration expert.

Added to the estimated 12 million illegal aliens already in the U.S., the amnesty program favored in Congress would boost that to over 14 million.

"According to the most reliable research, recent immigrants have sponsored an average of 3.45 additional relatives," said Jessica M. Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies.

"I estimate that if 700,000 DACA beneficiaries receive lawful permanent residency status under an amnesty, then they can be expected to sponsor at least an additional 1.4 million relatives over time," she told Congress this week.

Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, she added, "In this scenario, the award of LPR status would result in a second, de facto amnesty for the parents of DACA beneficiaries — the very individuals who brought their children to settle here illegally, creating this policy dilemma. Ultimately, an amnesty for DACA beneficiaries likely would produce more than two million new LPRs over 20 years."

President Trump recently ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that gave younger illegal immigrants a temporary amnesty. Congress and Trump appear ready to grant some type of amnesty or freedom to many of those in the program.

Vaughan instead suggested an outline that limited how many those in DACA could legally bring into the U.S. She suggested a lottery:

The way to avoid the chain migration increases and to help mitigate the inevitable fiscal costs of a DACA amnesty is to downsize the family migration categories and terminate the annual visa lottery. The family visa downsizing is best accomplished by terminating the categories for married adult sons and daughters and siblings of U.S. citizens (the family third and fourth preference categories) and by imposing a numerical limit on the admission of parents of U.S. citizens. These are chain migration categories that benefit immigrants' relatives who not nuclear family members, but are grown adults, presumably with independent, established lives in their home countries. It is difficult to justify preserving these categories if a large amnesty for DACA beneficiaries is to be enacted. Likewise, the visa lottery admits immigrants randomly, who generally have no ties to this country and who are not required to demonstrate any significant level of education or skills.

Adopting these changes would gradually offset the increase in immigration from the DACA amnesty over a 10-year period, which is when the majority of the chain migration resulting from an amnesty would occur. The reductions from cutting the chain migration and lottery categories would be about 200,000 green cards granted per year, amounting to two million fewer green cards over 10 years. As discussed above, a DACA amnesty would create about 700,000 new green cards right away, adding potentially the same number of green cards for spouses and parents after five to 10 years -- the admission of the parents presumably would be slowed by the imposition of a numerical limit.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at