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News of the Day - 9/2/15

Report: More Than Half of Immigrants on Welfare

More than half of the nation's immigrants receive some kind of government welfare, a figure that's far higher than the native-born population, according to a report to be released Wednesday.

About 51% of immigrant-led households receive at least one kind of welfare benefit, including Medicaid, food stamps, school lunches and housing assistance, compared to 30% for native-led households, according to the report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CES), a group that advocates for lower levels of immigration.

The center's report is based on 2012 data from the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation. It includes immigrants who have become naturalized citizens, legal permanent residents, those on short-term visas and undocumented immigrants.

The CES Director said one of the most shocking findings from the report was the high number of native-born Americans also on welfare. About 76% of immigrant households with children are on welfare, but so are 52% of native-born households with children.

"Most people have a sense that if you were to work for $10 an hour, 40 hours a week, you couldn't be receiving welfare, could you? You couldn't be living in public housing, could you?" he said. "The answer is yes, you can. That's one of the most surprising things about this study."

Other findings in the report:

  • Immigrants are more likely to be working than their native-born neighbors. The report found that 87% of immigrant households had at least one worker, compared to 76% for native households.
  • The majority of immigrants using welfare come from Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. The use of welfare is lower for immigrants from East Asia (32%), Europe (26%) and South Asia (17%).
  • Immigrants who have been in the U.S. more than 20 years use welfare less often, but their rates remain higher than native-born households.


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