Report: Most immigrant households rely on public assistance

Report: Most Immigrant Households Rely On Public Assistance

A new report shows that more than half of U.S. immigrants receive some kind government assistance.

That's according to a report from the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates for lower levels of immigration. The group looked at data from a 2012 Census Bureau survey.

51% of immigrant-led households (legal or illegal) reported that they tapped into at least one kind of benefit, including medicaid, welfare, food stamps and housing assistance, over the course of the year.

Among native-born households, that number was around 30%.

The report does point out where immigrant needs were met most by public assistance programs: 40% of households depended on food assistance and 42% were on Medicaid.

The report looked at immigrants who are naturalized citizens, legal permanent residents, those on short-term visas and undocumented immigrants.

It also estimated that 76% of immigrant-led homes with kids received welfare — compared to 52% of U.S.-born households with children.

The Center for Immigration Studies concluded that the "overwhelming majority of immigrant households using welfare are headed by legal immigrants."

Linda Chavez, the former Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush, agrees that the country's welfare system is too large and costly — but also says it's unfair to compare immigration welfare use to the native-born population that has been here so much longer, plus, many benefits in the study are for U.S.-born children of immigrants.

Chavez says, "When you take all of those issues into account, (the report) is less worrisome."

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