Poor Immigrants Use Government Benefits at Lower Rate


A new study by the Cato Institute finds that low-income immigrants use less public benefits than their native-born counterparts, contradicting the claim often espoused by rightwing pundits that immigrants in general and Hispanics in particular drain government resources.
The Huffington Post reports that, “The Cato Institute based its study on an analysis of use of Medicade SNAP, cash assistance programs, and the Supplemental Security Income program from the Census Bureau’s March 2012 Current Population Survey.”
Depending on immigration status, many immigrants do not qualify for government benefits. These results vastly differed from a study conducted by the Center for Immigration Studies, which stated that “immigrant-headed households with children used more Medicaid and food assistance than households with kids headed by the native-born.”
The Cato Institute refutes the validity of the Center for Immigration Studies report because it does not focus on the immigration status of individuals, neglects to adjust for income, and doesn’t take into account mixed households that include native born citizens and immigrants.
A report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that, “Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 64 percent of the population in 2010 and received 69 percent of the entitlement benefits. In contrast, Hispanics made up 16 percent of the population but received 12 percent of the benefits, less than their proportionate share — likely because they are a younger population and also because immigrants, including many legal immigrants, are ineligible for various benefits.”