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CIS: Immigrants use welfare at higher rate than natives

Some of the findings of a new study from the Center for Immigration Studies ("Welfare Use by Immigrant Households with Children: A Look at Cash, Medicaid, Housing, and Food Programs", link) include:

# In 2009 (based on data collected in 2010), 57 percent of households headed by an immigrant (legal and illegal) with children (under 18) used at least one welfare program, compared to 39 percent for native households with children.

# Immigrant households’ use of welfare tends to be much higher than natives for food assistance programs and Medicaid. Their use of cash and housing programs tends to be similar to native households.

# A large share of the welfare used by immigrant households with children is received on behalf of their U.S.-born children, who are American citizens. But even households with children comprised entirely of immigrants (no U.S.-born children) still had a welfare use rate of 56 percent in 2009.

# Immigrant households with children used welfare programs at consistently higher rates than natives, even before the current recession. In 2001, 50 percent of all immigrant households with children used at least one welfare program, compared to 32 percent for natives.

# Households with children with the highest welfare use rates are those headed by immigrants from the Dominican Republic (82 percent), Mexico and Guatemala (75 percent), and Ecuador (70 percent). Those with the lowest use rates are from the United Kingdom (7 percent), India (19 percent), Canada (23 percent), and Korea (25 percent).

# The states where immigrant households with children have the highest welfare use rates are Arizona (62 percent); Texas, California, and New York (61 percent); Pennsylvania (59 percent); Minnesota and Oregon (56 percent); and Colorado (55 percent).

Per this:

Some immigrant-advocacy groups criticized the report, saying it was engineered to inflame anti-immigrant sentiment by making an unequal comparison between immigrant households, which tend to be low-income, and all native households, including low-income and high-income households.

Immigrant households use welfare programs at about the same rate when compared with the low-income native households, said Jonathan Blazer, an attorney at the National Immigration Law Center an immigrant-advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

Since that appears to be the best argument that opponents can offer, CIS's report must be solid. Why are we allowing millions of poor people to immigrate here when we already have more poor Americans than our social welfare programs can apparently handle? Especially since the future for those poor immigrants and their children doesn't look very promising, as even Obama admits? What's going to happen to our social welfare programs as the children of those poor immigrants and their children retire?

Wed, 04/06/2011 - 15:20 · Importance: 4