A report issued by a think-tank based in Washington D.C. may provide basic data for critics of current immigration policies pursued by the Obama administration which has continued to lock horns with congressional Republicans over what some call “comprehensive immigration reform.” The Center for Immigration Studies has released a 52-page study that show welfare use rates among legal and illegal immigrant household are significantly higher than among non-immigrants. According to the study, about half of immigrant household received some form of public assistance in 2012. By way of comparison, non-immigrant families have a welfare enrollment rate of 30 percent.

"The findings of this analysis have important policy implications," said the report summary. CIS has been led by Mark Krikorian since 1995. He is a frequent contributor on Fox News and The National Review magazine. "Perhaps most important, the significantly higher welfare use associated with immigrants means that it is very likely immigration is a drain on public coffers, exacerbating the nation's fiscal deficit," added the report.

For the purposes of the study, CIS considered welfare to include Medicaid, cash assistance, food and housing programs. Welfare use among immigrants is high, not only for greenhorns but also those who are well established. For example, those households headed by immigrants who have lived in the United States for more than two decades show a rate of welfare use of  48 percent.

Among the states were welfare utilization by immigrant households is significant is California, where welfare utilization among immigrants was 55 percent compared with 30 percent. Elsewhere, immigrant welfare utilization rates were also significant: Florida at 42 percent as compared to 28 percent; New York, with 59 percent compared to 33 percent; and Texas at 57 percent versus 34 percent. These states have significant numbers of immigrants, not only from Latin America, but also Asia.

The study found that 51 percent of households headed by an immigrant (legal or illegal) in 2012 showed that they accessed at least one source of welfare during the year. By comparison, only 30 percent of non-immigrant households did the same. Immigrant households showed a greater tendency, however, to have at least one working member in 2012: 87 percent as compared to 76 percent rate for non-immigrant households.

The types of programs accessed by immigrants is broadly based. When subsidized school lunches are not counted, for example, welfare use is still 46 percent for immigrants and 28 percent for non-immigrants. Not counting Medicaid, welfare use among immigrants is 44 percent as compared to 26 percent for non-immigrants.

Among the reports other findings:

“Immigrant households have much higher use of food programs (40 percent vs. 22 percent for natives) and Medicaid (42 percent vs. 23 percent). Immigrant use of cash programs is somewhat higher than natives (12 percent vs. 10 percent) and use of housing programs is similar to natives.

“Welfare use varies among immigrant groups. Households headed by immigrants from Central America and Mexico (73 percent), the Caribbean (51 percent), and Africa (48 percent) have the highest overall welfare use. Those from East Asia (32 percent), Europe (26 percent), and South Asia (17 percent) have the lowest.

Many immigrants struggle to support their children, and a large share of welfare is received on behalf of U.S.-born children. However, even immigrant households without children have significantly higher welfare use than native households without children — 30 percent vs. 20 percent.” 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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