New CIS Study Shows Immigrants Take in More Welfare Than U.S. Born

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A study published yesterday by the Center for Immigration Studies, or CIS, claims immigrant households collect $1,803 more in welfare benefits than native households–families headed by a U.S. born person–based on data collected in 2012.

Based on a sample size of 22,077 native households and 2,980 immigrant households, the study found that a large portion of the discrepancy in welfare benefits stems from Medicaid dollars, though immigrant households benefited from welfare by slim margins in nearly every other category–cash ($686 to $517) and food ($1,083 to $689). Native households received one dollar more in housing benefits, ($395 to $394.)

Conducted by the conservative, independent public policy analyst Jason Richwine, the study explains the findings as being attributable to the average education level of immigrant families, which is lower than those born in the U.S.

“It is easy to understand why people with fewer skills are more likely to participate in welfare programs, since eligibility for those programs requires a low income,” writes Richwine, whose 2013 study with the Heritage Foundation on IQ differences between immigrants and natives caused quite a stir.

Richwine concluded the study by saying, “the American welfare system has become increasingly focused on buttressing low-wage workers rather than supporting non-workers. Put more simply, welfare and low-wage work go together.”

While this study seems to provide evidence for those who want the U.S. to scale back immigration, claiming that immigration hurts the economy, a separate study by the American Immigration Council highlights the positive effects immigration has on the economy.

Among the findings:

  • Based on 2013 figures, immigration increases GDP (by $31.4 billion) and tax revenue (“The average immigrant contributes nearly $120,000 more in taxes than he or she consumes in public benefits”).
  • Immigrants are nearly twice as likely to start a business than natives–at a rate of 0.52 immigrant entrepreneurs and 0.27 for natives.
  • Between 1996 and 2011, immigrants contributed $62 more per person than natives to Medicare.

As Congress and the next president will surely take a close look at U.S. immigration policy, possibly overhauling it completely or banning those of a certain faith, these studies will surely be used as fodder for both sides in the conversations to come.

Alec Siegel
Alec Siegel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. When he’s not working at Law Street he’s either cooking a mediocre tofu dish or enjoying a run in the woods. His passions include: gooey chocolate chips, black coffee, mountains, the Animal Kingdom in general, and John Lennon. Baklava is his achilles heel. Contact Alec at ASiegel@LawStreetMedia.com.



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