The Center for Immigration Studies examined immigrant (legal and illegal) and welfare use using the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). A shocking report that shows 51% of immigrant (legal and illegal) receive some type of public assistance compared to 30% of native born households.
This study is the first in recent years to examine immigrant (legal and illegal) and native welfare use using the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). While its complexity makes it difficult to use, the survey is widely regarded as providing the most accurate picture of welfare participation. The SIPP shows immigrant households use welfare at significantly higher rates than native households, even higher than indicated by other Census surveys.
In 2012, 51 percent of households headed by an immigrant (legal or illegal) reported that they used at least one welfare program during the year, compared to 30 percent of native households. Welfare in this study includes Medicaid and cash, food, and housing programs.
- No single program explains immigrants’ higher overall welfare use. For example, not counting subsidized school lunch, welfare use is still 46 percent for immigrants and 28 percent for natives. Not counting Medicaid, welfare use is 44 percent for immigrants and 26 percent for natives.
- 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.
It is alarming that there is a lack of upward mobility of immigrant families.
If one assumes that immigration is supposed to benefit the country, then immigrant welfare use should be much lower than natives’. Instead, the SIPP shows that, two decades after welfare reform tried to curtail immigrant eligibility, immigrant-headed households are using welfare at much higher rates than native households for most programs. Based on data collected in 2012, 51 percent of households headed by immigrants (legal or illegal) reported that they used at least one welfare program, compared to 30 percent of native-headed households. In addition to having higher welfare use, immigrant households pay less in taxes to the federal government on average than native households.
Online: Center for Immigration Studies –Welfare Use by Immigrant and Native Households