september 30, 2015

Video: Welfare use by immigrant and native households

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WASHINGTON, DC –The video and transcript are now available for the Center for Immigration Studies panel discussion on two recent reports about immigrant welfare use. The first report found that 51 percent of households headed by immigrants, both legal and illegal, use welfare, compared to 30 percent of households headed by the native-born. The second looked at legal status, finding that 49 percent of legal immigrant households and 62 percent of illegal immigrant households access welfare.

View the video:

View the transcript:

In his opening remarks Dr. Steven Camarota, the Center's Director of Research and the author of the reports, discussed how "Welfare use is high for both nearly arrived immigrants and the well-established. For example, of immigrant households headed by someone who had been here for more than 20 years, 48% accessed one of the major welfare programs."

Camarota concluded by asking whether it makes sense for the U.S. to have an immigration policy that admits so many people with little education, who will be significantly poorer on average, forcing them to make heavy use of welfare.

Robert Rector, Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a leading authority on welfare, spoke of the link between education level and welfare. Even though most immigrant households include someone who works, immigrants are disproportionately low-skilled, so they cannot pay enough in taxes to pay for government benefits they receive. Low skill immigrants receive "4 to 5 dollars of benefits for every dollar paid," Rector said.

Reihan Salam, Executive Editor of National Review, commented on a wide range of problematic aspects of unskilled immigration, including the heavy use of public services. He suggested that a policy of massive immigration of the unskilled, which is the policy the U.S. now practices, may not be compatible with true ethnic and racial justice and a system that enables people of different backgrounds to make it to the middle class. "We are sowing distrust by not confronting the difficulties that less-skilled, low-wage workers face," Salam said, noting also that "these new less-skilled immigrants are putting pressure on the wages of older immigrants."

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