As thousands of migrants approached the southern border, a new study revealed that conservatives were right to suspect that immigrants used welfare services at a much higher rate than the native population.
The Center for Immigration Studies used Census data to estimate welfare use among non-citizen households — including green card holders and guest workers — and immigrant households, finding that only 50 percent of native households used welfare services compared to 63 percent of those headed by non-citizens and immigrants.
While many often argue that some immigrants can’t receive public services, CIS detailed the many ways they actually could:
“While most new legal immigrants (green card holders) are barred from most welfare programs, as are illegal immigrants and temporary visitors, these provisions have only a modest impact on non-citizen household use rates because: 1) most legal immigrants have been in the country long enough to qualify; 2) the bar does not apply to all programs, nor does it always apply to non-citizen children; 3) some states provide welfare to new immigrants on their own; and, most importantly, 4) non-citizens (including illegal immigrants) can receive benefits on behalf of their U.S.-born children who are awarded U.S. citizenship and full welfare eligibility at birth.”
The disparity appeared to be broad-based, as no single program could explain immigrants’ relatively high rate of welfare use.
According to CIS, lower educational levels explained the differences in welfare use. “The primary reason welfare use is so high among non-citizens is that a much larger share of non-citizens have modest levels of education and, as a result, they often earn low wages and qualify for welfare at higher rates than natives,” the group said.
As CIS noted, welfare use appeared to increase as they examined immigrants who stayed longer than ten years. “Of households headed by non-citizens in the United States for fewer than 10 years, 50 percent use one or more welfare programs; for those here more than 10 years, the rate is 70 percent,” CIS said.
CIS’s study came as Democrats prepared to take the House in 2019 and President Donald Trump threatened to shut down the government over funding for a southern border wall.