Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Do native born Americans use more welfare at a higher rate than illegal immigrants?

Have you ever wondered where some anti-Trumpers and Leftists come up with their "native born Americans use more welfare than illegals" memes and mottoes? Just read such an article today by a very sound research organization, Cato, which is libertarian. "Immigration and the welfare state: immigrant and native use rates and benefit levels for means-tested welfare and entitlement programs." Alex Nowrasteh and Robert Orr, May 10, 2018.

Here's the reasoning. First of all, toss in Social Security, SSI and Medicare into the pot and call that welfare. I know more than a few Americans who would object to calling the retirement plan and insurance they paid for "welfare."

Second, don't distinguish among green card holders, permanent residents, temporary workers, students (F-1, F-2, F-3 visas) refugees and naturalized citizens and illegal border crashers from 84 countries pouring through our southern border. It wouldn't shock me too much if green card computer employees of Google, Amazon and Microsoft from India and China earning 3x the wage of the average American don't use welfare. Just chatted with a 20-something recent OSU graduate (probably Indian, but could be Pakistani) on my walk yesterday, ready to take off for Seattle to work. From student visa to work visa (H1b).

Third, neglect to point out that virtually all the in-kind benefits that come from the 50 states, originate at the federal level--the National School Lunch Program, WIC, Head Start. Since those are available to all regardless of immigration status, that's also on the wrong side of the ledger.

Fourth, ignore that no one actually has a figure on how many illegals are living among us, working 2-3 jobs, being paid under the table, and sending remittances home to Ecuador or Honduras or Kenya. The churches and non-profits who receive government grants do not ask questions--they serve all.

Table 1 in the article disproves Cato's thesis by using what most Americans would define as federal "welfare." Percentage using Cash assistance, 0.7 by natives, 0.8 by noncitizens; SNAP 9.6 by natives, 14.6 by non-citizens; Medicaid 12.3 by natives, 18.9 by non-citizens.

The article is really loosey-goosey when it comes to the children. It has a category for "child immigrants" (which could be children of green card holders, work visa holders, naturalized citizens, temporary workers) and for "citizen children of noncitizen parents." Duh! I'm not too shocked if the immigrant child of a Filipino computer programmer working for Google is less likely to be using welfare than the child of a coal miner in West Virginia whose parents lost their jobs because of a clean air regulation.

It's not fake news, just government statistics with no agreement on terms.

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