Congress is in the midst of the most dramatic overhaul of our nation’s immigration laws in 80 years. So why is hardly anyone asking the basic question: How might this affect government costs?
In the case of the immigration bill passed in the Senate, a measure sponsored by Senators Mel Martinez (R.-Fla.) and Chuck Hagel (R.-Neb.), we have an answer: It would raise them substantially.
The bill would grant amnesty to about 10 million illegal immigrants and put them on a path to citizenship. Once they become citizens, the net additional cost to the federal government of benefits for these individuals will be around $16 billion per year. The bill would also spur a rapid new flow of low-skill immigrants with its program for “guest workers” (for life, that is) and other provisions.
To make matters worse, once an illegal immigrant becomes a citizen, he has the right to bring his parents to live in the
Welfare can be defined as means-tested aid programs. These programs provide cash, non-cash, and social service assistance that is limited to low-income households. The major means-tested programs include Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, public housing, the earned income credit and Medicaid. Historically, recent immigrants were less likely to receive welfare than native-born Americans.
But over the last 30 years, this historic pattern has reversed. As the relative education levels of immigrants fell, their tendency to receive welfare benefits increased. By the late 1990s, immigrant households were 50% more likely to receive means-tested aid than native-born households. Moreover, immigrants appear to assimilate to welfare use. The longer immigrants live in the
The picture for illegal immigrants, who would receive amnesty under the bill, is even more alarming. Roughly half of current illegal immigrants are high-school dropouts. Use of welfare among legal immigrants who are high-school dropouts is three times the rate for the
Illegal immigration is now a major cause of child poverty. According to the
This high level of child poverty among illegal immigrants in the
In general, children born and raised outside of marriage are seven times more likely to live in poverty than children born and raised by married couples. Children born out of wedlock are also more likely to be on welfare, to have lower educational achievement, to have emotional problems, to abuse drugs and alcohol, and to become involved in crime.
Federal and state governments currently operate a massive system of income redistribution: The upper-middle class is taxed, and money and services are transferred to the lower-income half of the population. In 2004, some $583 billion was transferred in this way. Current immigration in the
There is a remarkably foolish idea now running through the Senate that the key to solving the Social Security crisis is to import into the
Immigration to the