Center For Immigration Studies: Trump’s ‘Concern Over Immigrant Welfare Use Is Justified’

“Concern over immigrant welfare use is justified, as households headed by non-citizens use means-tested welfare at high rates," says the Center for Immigration Studies as President Trump looks to the DHS proposal that will enforce "public charge[s]" to non-citizen immigrants that use public assistance programs.


Data from the Census Bureau has shown that there is evidence for President Donald Trump‘s common concern that the influx of undocumented immigrants is costing U.S. taxpayers. In a new study, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) found that a majority of “non-citizens,” including those with legal green cards that have not been naturalized, are relying on welfare programs to the tune of 63 percent to be exact, with the number to grow to over 70 percent in as little as a decade.

“The Trump administration has proposed new ‘public charge’ rules making it harder for prospective immigrants to qualify for lawful permanent residence – green cards – if they use or are likely to use U.S. welfare programs,” said CIS, according to the Washington Examiner.

“Concern over immigrant welfare use is justified, as households headed by non-citizens use means-tested welfare at high rates. Non-citizens in the data include illegal immigrants, long-term temporary visitors like guest workers, and permanent residents who have not naturalized. While barriers to welfare use exist for these groups, it has not prevented them from making extensive use of the welfare system, often receiving benefits on behalf of U.S.-born children,” added the immigration think tank.

The report details that there are 4,684,784 million non-citizen households receiving welfare, 4,370,385 of which have at least one worker in the house. Only about half of those people are in the U.S. legally, the study found.

Results of the study show that 63 percent of households headed by a non-citizen reported that they used at least one welfare program, compared to 35 percent of native-headed households. If cash payments from the earned income tax credit (ETIC) program are left out, welfare usage decreases five percentage point each, with 58 percent for non-citizen households and 30 percent for native-born households.

Moreover, 45 percent of non-citizen households use food assistance programs, compared with 21 percent among native-headed households. With Medicaid, it is 50 percent for non-citizens and 23 percent for native households).

Nevertheless, while most “new” legal immigrants, whom are green card holders, are prohibited from using most U.S. welfare programs, the study dictates, “these provisions have only a modest impact on non-citizen household use rates because: 1) most legal immigrants have been in the country long enough to qualify; 2) the bar does not apply to all programs, nor does it always apply to non-citizen children; 3) some states provide welfare to new immigrants on their own; and, most importantly, 4) non-citizens (including illegal immigrants) can receive benefits on behalf of their U.S.-born children who are awarded U.S. citizenship and full welfare eligibility at birth.”

In late November, the City of Baltimore, Maryland, filed a first-in-the-nation lawsuit challenging the President’s efforts to curtail legal immigration by penalizing people who use public benefits under the Trump Administration’s expanded definition of “public charges.” As stated by The Hill, the measure from the White House would bar immigrants who “unduly rely on public assistance” including vital programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from a path to citizenship or other legal status.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says the rule would not impact:

“[G]roups of aliens that Congress specifically exempted from the public charge ground of inadmissibility, such as refugees, asylees, Afghans and Iraqis with special immigrant visas, nonimmigrant trafficking and crime victims, individuals applying under the Violence Against Women Act, and special immigrant juveniles. Additionally, the rule excludes consideration of benefits received by U.S. citizen children of aliens who will acquire citizenship under either section 320 or 322 of the INA, and by alien service members of the U.S. Armed Forces.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said last week that the proposed public charge rule is meant to “implement the law” and “promote immigrant self-sufficiency….requir[ing] that immigrants be able to support themselves financially and not be dependent on a public benefit, like welfare.” DHS is also looking at a proposal to deny green cards to immigrants who use public assistance.