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Report: More than 1/2 of immigrants on welfare

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A new study finds that more than half of immigrants, both illegal and legal, use welfare of some kind.

The Center for Immigration Studies report also found that immigrants are using 57 percent more taxpayer-funded food stamps than native-born Americans.

The study is the first in recent years to examine immigrant and native-born welfare use — including Medicaid and cash, food, and housing programs — based on the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation.

CIS found that in 2012, 51 percent of households headed by an immigrant, legal or illegal, reported they used at least one welfare program during the year.

That contrasts with 30 percent of native-born households using welfare of some kind.

Steven A. Camarota, the director of research for CIS, said that if one “assumes that immigration is supposed to benefit the country, then immigrant welfare use should be much lower than natives’.”

Instead, the government’s Survey of Income and Program Participation 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.”

Camarota pointed out that most of the immigrant population is not covered by the restrictions, and numerous exceptions allow access to the welfare system.

Furthermore, he said, immigrants often receive benefits on behalf of their U.S.-born children.

“The findings of this analysis have important policy implications,” he said Camarota. “Perhaps most important, the significantly higher welfare use associated with immigrants means that it is very likely immigration is a drain on public coffers, exacerbating the nation’s fiscal deficit.”

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