Welfare Use by Immigrant Households with Children: A Look at Cash, Medicaid, Housing, and Food Programs

Steven A. Camarota, Center for Immigration Studies, April 2011

Thirteen years after welfare reform, the share of immigrant-headed households (legal and illegal) with a child (under age 18) using at least one welfare program continues to be very high. This is partly due to the large share of immigrants with low levels of education and their resulting low incomes–not their legal status or an unwillingness to work. The major welfare programs examined in this report include cash assistance, food assistance, Medicaid, and public and subsidized housing.

Among the findings:

• In 2009 (based on data collected in 2010), 57 percent of households headed by an immigrant (legal and illegal) with children (under 18) used at least one welfare program, compared to 39 percent for native households with children.

• Immigrant households’ use of welfare tends to be much higher than natives for food assistance programs and Medicaid. Their use of cash and housing programs tends to be similar to native households.

• A large share of the welfare used by immigrant households with children is received on behalf of their U.S.-born children, who are American citizens. But even households with children comprised entirely of immigrants (no U.S.-born children) still had a welfare use rate of 56 percent in 2009.

• Immigrant households with children used welfare programs at consistently higher rates than natives, even before the current recession. In 2001, 50 percent of all immigrant households with children used at least one welfare program, compared to 32 percent for natives.

• Households with children with the highest welfare use rates are those headed by immigrants from the Dominican Republic (82 percent), Mexico and Guatemala (75 percent), and Ecuador (70 percent). Those with the lowest use rates are from the United Kingdom (7 percent), India (19 percent), Canada (23 percent), and Korea (25 percent).

• The states where immigrant households with children have the highest welfare use rates are Arizona (62 percent); Texas, California, and New York (61 percent); Pennsylvania (59 percent); Minnesota and Oregon (56 percent); and Colorado (55 percent).

• We estimate that 52 percent of households with children headed by legal immigrants used at least one welfare program in 2009, compared to 71 percent for illegal immigrant households with children. Illegal immigrants generally receive benefits on behalf of their U.S.-born children.

• Illegal immigrant households with children primarily use food assistance and Medicaid, making almost no use of cash or housing assistance. In contrast, legal immigrant households tend to have relatively high use rates for every type of program.

• High welfare use by immigrant-headed households with children is partly explained by the low education level of many immigrants. Of households headed by an immigrant who has not graduated high school, 80 percent access the welfare system, compared to 25 percent for those headed by an immigrant who has at least a bachelor’s degree.

• An unwillingness to work is not the reason immigrant welfare use is high. The vast majority (95 percent) of immigrant households with children had at least one worker in 2009. But their low education levels mean that more than half of these working immigrant households with children still accessed the welfare system during 2009.

• If we exclude the primary refugee-sending countries, the share of immigrant households with children using at least one welfare program is still 57 percent.

• Welfare use tends to be high for both new arrivals and established residents. In 2009, 60 percent of households with children headed by an immigrant who arrived in 2000 or later used at least one welfare program; for households headed by immigrants who arrived before 2000 it was 55 percent.

• For all households (those with and without children), the use rates were 37 percent for households headed by immigrants and 22 percent for those headed by natives.

• Although most new legal immigrants are barred from using some welfare for the first five years, this provision has only a modest impact on household use rates because most immigrants have been in the United States for longer than five years; the ban only applies to some programs; some states provide welfare to new immigrants with their own money; by becoming citizens immigrants become eligible for all welfare programs; and perhaps most importantly, the U.S.-born children of immigrants (including those born to illegal immigrants) are automatically awarded American citizenship and are therefore eligible for all welfare programs at birth.

• The eight major welfare programs examined in this report are SSI (Supplemental Security Income for low income elderly and disabled), TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), WIC (Women, Infants, and Children food program), free/reduced school lunch, food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Medicaid (health insurance for those with low incomes), public housing, and rent subsidies.

{snip}

Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • james

    I guess third worlders get wrong messages that America is land of welfare …… or white people are too dumb to give welfare without ask….

  • Anonymous

    Socialism again benefits the rich.

    Through social spending, the rich get the wealth confiscated from productive whites.

    After it is collected in taxes, it is redistributed through the social system. Then, after it is spent on consumables and rent, it trickles up to private hands.

    The new order for the United States is being planned around a racial-economic stratification: a permanent dark underclass, whites in the middle with varying social mobility, and a mixed race elite.

    Whites will overwhelmingly make up the police, soldiers and prison guards of the state, keeping other non-whites and whites in line for their corrupt masters, and providing a cover of white respectability for a de facto dictatorship.

  • whiteraven

    “57% of immigrant families with children get some form of welfare.”

    Personally, I believe whites should be encouraged to “dip” into the freebie system any way they possibly can, and, from the data I’ve been able to Google so far, there’s a lot that even people with assets can get from the system.

    So, file your claims, brothers and sisters, and get what you can from a system that treats you like dirt, because this empire is in the process of collapse anyway.

  • Mike

    Sometimes I get very sick with the articles telling what these people take.

    They take NOTHING we serve it up to them on a Silver Platter.

    Is it their fault or our fault this is happening?

    YOU know exactly whose fault it is, don’t you?

  • Luke

    May I again point out that these welfare and assorted UNEARNED entitlement programs are being funded by the ever increasing taxes that both the Democrats AND the Neo-Conned GOP have and are continuing to impose upon the mostly White middle class tax payers?

    Can I also remind everyone that treasonous neo-con politicians like Newt Gingrich, Salin Palin, Dick Army, Lindsay Graham, Juan McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Karl Rove, the entire Bush family, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney and the rest of these Rs who have the tag of neo-con attached to them – have openly stated their obsession to ‘court’ the Hispanic vote and to ‘lure’ it away from the Democrat Party?

    And, since the Ds have historically resorted to outright bribery – and promised to confiscate an ever-increasing portion of the hard-earned wages of the mostly white middle class and then use our stolen dollars to subsidize these endless UNEARNED social entitlement freebies that attract minorities to their party, just how would the neo-conned Rs manage to successfully win over the Hispanic and other non-white voters?

    Answer: By offering to steal more of the hard-earned wages of the mostly white middle class tax payers than the Democrats already do, and/or by offering to increase the level of government sanctioned affirmative action discrimination against the white majority – or by a combination of both.

    Neo-Cons are your mortal enemy, White man and White woman. I suggest that you get off your duffs and learn how to recognize a neo-conned R before you vote for them. A zero tolerance policy must be adopted by whites for neo-con ideology. The tag of ‘neo-con’ must become the death sentence for the career of any politician who embraces this anti-white ideology.

  • Juggernaut

    Thirteen years after welfare reform, the share of immigrant-headed households …continues to be very high.

    This is news?

    Is there anyone that doesn’t know this? The media is having an increasingly difficult time covering up and/or praising the “joys” of uncontrolled immigration.

    These foreign COLONISTS (not immigrants) now feel they have the “right” to the things Camorata listed above: food, health care, schooling, housing, at YOUR expense! They also believe that YOU are living on THEIR land STOLEN from their ancestors.

    Here is what your new third world replacement gets when they cross the US Border while US politicians either look the other way or WELCOME the invaders with YOUR $$$:

    Attention Illegal immigrants!

    You are entitled to the following upon immediate entry to the United States of America!

    * A JOB,

    * A DRIVERS LICENSE,

    * SOCIAL SECURITY CARD,

    * WELFARE,

    * FOOD STAMPS,

    * CREDIT CARDS,

    * SUBSIDIZED RENT OR A LOAN TO BUY A HOUSE,

    * FREE EDUCATION,

    * FREE HEALTH CARE,

    * A LOBBYIST IN WASHINGTON

    * BILLIONS OF DOLLARS WORTH OF PUBLIC DOCUMENTS PRINTED IN
YOUR LANGUAGE

    * THE RIGHT TO CARRY YOUR COUNTRY’S FLAG WHILE YOU PROTEST THAT
YOU DON’T GET ENOUGH RESPECT

    * AND, IN MANY INSTANCES, YOU CAN VOTE.

    You white American taxpayers? You get increased taxes and promises from your politicians, both Dem and Rep, that we will continue to “welcome” immigrants.

  • Veritas

    The figures shown in the article are precisely why I’m so tired of legal and illegal immigration swamping this country, but the obtuse politicians in Washington will not pass one law that makes even the slightest bit of sense. Unemployment at 10%, no problem, we’ll allow another 1 million to enter; hospitals going broke because illegals use the emergency rooms for anything–too bad; States and municipalities forced to carry the burden of welfare payments due to Washington’s immigration policies–tough. When will we hit the wall with all of this nonsense?

  • Kenelm Digby

    And yet, and yet, day after day we have all manner of ‘economic experts’ incessantly uttering the falsehood that ‘immigrants are needed to boost the economy’ or even ‘immigrants are needed to pay for social security’.

    The falsehood gets repeated and repeated, and the funny thing is, the falsehood is hardly ever challenged and is the ‘accepted wisdom’.

  • Chicagoan

    Of that fifty-seven percent, the vast majority are third worlders. The numbers need to be broken down so as to clarify exactly who is milking the system.

  • Anonymous

    “Whites will overwhelmingly make up the police, soldiers and prison guards of the state, keeping other non-whites and whites in line for their corrupt masters, and providing a cover of white respectability for a de facto dictatorship.”

    Not in California. The majority of police and prison guards are non White. There are few White government workers at all. Most are in their sixties and got their jobs before affirmative action really hit.

  • Anonymous

    What a bonanza! This is why it’s all over for this country. I live in NYC and what goes on here is unbelievable. Not really, you all know. Because it’s going on everywhere they are…and they really are everywhere now. So many elderly immigrants getting SSI checks but have never worked a day here. So many disabled too. So many rush their kids to the social security office to try to get SSI. I’m often the only white on the bus or in a doctor’s office. Everyone has a medicaid card of course. Free transportation too. We wouldn’t want them to take the bus with me, right? Obama is well-off. Does anyone know if he has reimbursed the taxpayers for all the goodies his illegal invader aunt has used all these years? Does she live in the White House with him or is she still getting housing courtesy of the taxpayers? Has any reporter dared to ask this question?

  • Anonymous

    Let’s add in the free cell phones. Do they include the free transportation in the medicaid figures? That adds up. Free metro cards and ambulettes. Rides to supermarkets and churches. In my area of northeast Queens there are at least 7 immigrant churches in a very small area of about 12 blocks. That adds up too.

  • sandy

    And the sad thing is that liberal democrats(communists) encourage these illegals to get on welfare because they want a big government socialist country. That is why democrats will never vote to get rid of the birthright citizenship law (anchor babies). These democrat creeps are literally destroying this country and betraying white people just to get votes. Just to get votes! One should never vote democrat. They are traitors!

  • Vito Danelli

    For what it’s worth, I’ve been emailing this report to radio talk show hosts in my area. I’ve also been calling the shows that have an open forum to discuss any issue.

    You can sense a level of discomfort on the other end of the line. It’s like the host doesn’t want the focus to be on the welfare that LEGAL Immigrants are receiving. They always seem to try to shift the topic to ILLEGAL Immigration.