According to American law, immigrants coming into the United States must be able to demonstrate that they are financially able to care for themselves within the American system. This has been the case for people coming to America, supposedly, since 1880. (Many of us who descend from the people who went through Ellis Island may stop and say, Ahhhh, not exactly.) In recent years, however, those charged with enforcing immigration law have not been enforcing it, and as a result, a tremendous number of immigrants, legal or not, are taking some form of government assistance:
More than half of immigrant-led households use at least one welfare program, according to research by the Center for Immigration Studies. By comparison, 30 percent of households led by native-born U.S. citizens take welfare.
This information is taken from documents obtained from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) via an inquiry by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). According to FAIR’s research, this number only applies to immigrants from five countries: Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Columbia, and Cuba, as EOIR does not keep statistics on immigrants from all countries. In the last three years, even with court hearings, only one person, a Mexican, has been removed from the country for being a public burden thanks to using welfare.
Why is this the case? Plain and simply, we aren’t deporting immigrants who can’t support themselves.
No enforcement means more impoverished immigrants willing to test their chances, said Ian Smith, the FAIR investigator who obtained the data.
“Like all removal grounds, they’re supposed to deter that behavior, and it’s there to make sure that [those] people come into this country are at least somewhat desirable,” he said. “It was supposed to be a filtration mechanism. It’s like anything. If you don’t enforce it, the deterrence element gets turned off.”
And so half the people who come to the USA for a better life are on the dole, and three quarters of the people from Mexico, and Central America are. 51% of people from the Caribbean are as well. The programs involved are both state and federal. Sometimes the immigrants are on one program, but frequently they are on several.
The center said that’s not surprising given that welfare is inversely related to education, meaning the less educated someone is, the more likely he or she will be poor and will take welfare. Central American and Mexican immigrants are overwhelmingly less educated, according to the center’s findings.
Immigrants being on welfare are supposed to have a “public charge” against them which is then to be counted in immigration court. However, thanks to a 1990s law put into effect under Bill Clinton, welfare doesn’t really count against and immigrant who refuses to pay back the money taken when he or she is charged in court.
According to those requirements, many welfare programs don’t even count against immigrants, and even when they do, states or federal agencies must have tried to get the immigrant to repay the money, a judge has to have sided with the government’s case, and the immigrant must have refused to comply in order for a public charge case to stick. The violation also must have occurred in the first several years after an immigrant was admitted.
“Collectively, the various sources addressing the meaning of public charge suggest that an alien’s receipt of public benefits, per se, is unlikely to result in the alien being deemed removable on public charge grounds,” the Congressional Research Service concluded in a report earlier this year.
And therein lies the huge problem with immigration in the United States. It isn’t simply illegals crossing the southern border, but lack of enforcement of the laws on the books that allows people taking welfare illegally to stay. It also makes that trek across desert, mountains and the Rio Grande enticing for people who have nothing. And so they come. As a result, immigration of both the legal and illegal variety is costing us a lot of money.
Yes, we are a nation of immigrants and the children and grandchildren of immigrants, but our ancestors came here and for the most part made it on their own. Welfare for immigrants is quite a switch.