You bought into some right bullshit, AGAIN. When are you going to learn to double check your misinformation
so that you can, you know, LEARN?
Poverty Myth: Immigrants Come to the US to Use Welfare
ATD Fourth World USA September 6, 2018 No comments
Immigrants are less likely than native-born Americans to use welfare programs and don’t even qualify for welfare benefits in most cases.
Not only don’t immigrants come to the US to use welfare, but in many cases potential immigrants must prove their financial independence before even qualifying for a visa, making them far less likely to need support than native-born Americans.
This is a myth that has been getting a lot of attention lately, with some of the highest elected officials in the land arguing that we must curb legal immigration so that immigrants can’t, in the words of Donald Trump, “Come in and just immediately go sign up for welfare.” 
False claims like that one are based on studies which have shown that a majority of “immigrant households” use some kind of social welfare program – but these claims are based on a statistical sleight of hand that misrepresents reality.
A Person vs. a Household
The law on immigration and welfare is clear: When a person becomes a legal permanent resident of the United States, they are required to pay taxes but they are ineligible to receive almost any welfare benefits until they have resided in the country for at least five years .
So, what is meant by an “immigrant household” then? Well, according to the census a household is a group of people living together under the same roof. A household is labeled an “immigrant” household if the “head of household” is an immigrant – even if everyone else in the household is a citizen. Moreover, a “head of household” is simply whoever happens to respond when the census taker comes and knocks on the door, no matter if they are the primary earner for the family.
immigrants come to the US to use welfare
What does this mean for this debate? Imagine then a family of four where one parent is an immigrant but the other parent and both children are citizens. And let’s say they rent out their basement to a local college student who is also a citizen. For census purposes, the household consist of five people.
Even though four of them are citizens, if the one non-citizen opens the door when the census bureau comes, it is labeled an immigrant household. This means that if the student in the basement is using some kind of social program, even if the other adults in the household are billionaires, this is counted in census data as an immigrant household using benefits.
This situation is actually surprisingly common. Many immigrants have children who are citizens – and citizens are legally able to apply to any program in our social safety net. A child who is a citizen might qualify to receive Medicare, for instance, while their parents do not. In a study looking at households, this would be counted as an immigrant household (because of the parents) receiving a benefit (because of the kids) – despite the fact that, again, no non-citizen is actually receiving government assistance.
So using “households” instead of “individuals” lets opponents to legal immigration make dramatic claims about immigrant welfare use.
But it’s still not enough
Perhaps most significant though, even playing the household vs. individual game doesn’t justify their most grandiose findings. An analysis by the Libertarian think tank The Cato Institute found that using the same numbers when you control for socioeconomic factors, “Overall, immigrant households in poverty consume less welfare than native [U.S.-born] households in poverty.” [emphasis added] 
Going farther, the Cato Institute broke down the numbers available by individuals in a report titled, (SPOILER ALERT!) “Poor Immigrants Use Public Benefits at a Lower Rate than Poor Native-Born Citizens.”
The study found that, you guessed it, “Low-income immigrants use public benefits […] at a lower rate than low-income native-born citizens.”  Adult low-income immigrants used Medicaid at a lower rate (20% vs. 25%) than citizens, and their children were less likely to use CHIP (49% vs. 65%) or SNAP (33% vs. 51%).
Moreover, even when immigrants are qualified and enrolled, their cost per person is lower than that for citizens. In the case of Medicaid, for instance, low-income immigrant adults cost 42% less per person than citizens. In the case of CHIP, low-income immigrant children cost 66% less per person than citizens. 
And then lastly, we have to point out that this whole discussion focuses on documented immigrants, who are eligible after five years to apply for welfare programs.
Undocumented immigrants never have this right unless they change their immigration status, which means that despite the fact that undocumented immigrants pay close to a billion dollars in taxes each year, they never have the right to benefit from the system they help support .
But wait… What is this poverty myth really about?
There is a deeper question that we should be asking here though: If immigrants pay taxes, and those taxes contribute to our social safety net, isn’t it reasonable that they should be able to use that safety net when times get tough? Why does this idea create such a backlash?
The answer is that what is really going on here is yet another example of anti-poor bias in our country’s political discourse. When a politician says immigrants are “on welfare,” what they are really saying is that immigrants are not good Americans.
They are seen as “takers” not “makers.” They are judged to be lazy, dishonest, frauds & cheats. Being “on welfare” is something someone is supposed to be ashamed of. It is a moral failing and anyone needing this help for a period of time is considered a drain on our country’s resources.
A quick survey of the myriad fact-checking sites that have debunked this false claim about immigrants reveals though that none of them have addressed this deeper point. Liberal or libertarian, voices across the political spectrum have risen to defend the honor of immigrants in the face of a blatantly false statement.
The fact that none of those same voices have asked the more basic question – So what if a taxpayer uses the benefits they pay for? – is a sign of how deep that anti-poor bias is rooted across the political spectrum.
That is the real tragedy of this myth.