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Huge savings expected in policy change on welfare for legal immigrants
The plan that the Trump administration is reportedly set to roll out concerning welfare-dependent legal immigrants resettling in the U.S. may save Am ...
Thursday, August 09, 2018
by Martin Barillas

The plan that the Trump administration is reportedly set to roll out concerning welfare-dependent legal immigrants resettling in the U.S. may save American taxpayers as much as $1,600 a year per immigrant. The plan would prohibit legal immigrants, who require government welfare payments for their livelihood, from resettling in the U.S. The plan, which is expected to be announced in September, has been in the works since February.

Currently, taxpayers spend approximately $57.4 billion per year for law enforcement, education, and various welfare schemes for the mostly low skilled legal immigrants every year. Over the last 10 years, 10 million immigrants have entered the country. If legal immigration is not restricted, the same number of legal immigrants can be expected over the next decade. According to a 2016 report by the National Academies of Science, taxpayers on the state and local levels are hit for approximately $1,600 each year per immigrant to pay for their welfare benefits. In addition, immigrant households take in 33 percent more in cash welfare than American citizen households.

In an October 2017 interview with TPM, Harvard University economist George Borjas proclaimed that the United States is funding the world’s “largest anti-poverty program” at the expense of American taxpayers. Five decades of mass immigration of low-skilled immigrants, he said, have had a negative impact on working-class and middle-class Americans. 

Borjas said:

“Since 1965, we have admitted a lot of low-skilled immigrants, and one way to view that policy is that we were running basically the largest anti-poverty program in the world. That is actually not a bad thing at all. Except someone is going to have to pay the cost for that.

“This is the question that most progressives don’t want to face up to. They really want to believe that immigrants are manna from heaven. That everybody is really better off and that everybody is happy forever after. What they refuse to confront is the reality that nothing in the world is like manna from heaven. In any policy change, some people benefit a lot and some people don’t. And this point also applies to immigration, which has created the dynamics of where we are now.”

A change in policy regarding legal immigrants who pose a “public charge” is expected in the coming weeks and will be announced in the Federal Register. Households headed by legal or illegal immigrants use almost  60 percent more in taxpayer-funded food stamps than households headed by native born Americans, according to the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). By limiting such welfare, taxpayers may see significant savings.

The Department of Homeland Security is seeking to change the definition of who constitutes a public charge  — someone dependent on the government —  to deny legal immigrant status to migrants by considering their use, or likely use, of nearly any government benefit as criteria for determining who may enter or remain in the United States. The benefits include food stamps, Medicaid, children’s health insurance (CHIP), the earned income tax credit, Obamacare, and welfare. On Thursday, the Washington Post opined, “The proposal, which is expected to be posted soon in the Federal Register, is the administration’s latest attack on immigrant families, coming on the heels of its cruel and unlawful practice of separating families seeking asylum at the border and detaining children in prisonlike conditions. This is a radical change from historical and current policy.”

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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