Welfare or Work? New Rules for Immigrants
New rules under consideration by the Trump administration would make it tougher for immigrants on welfare to get green cards. It’s time to get cracking.More than half of all noncitizen children and teens in the United States receive taxpayer-funded assistance, mostly Medicaid, while nearly half of all noncitizen adults legally in the country are on some form of welfare, according to the Migration Policy Institute.The MPI report found 54.2 percent of noncitizen minors up to age 17 receive at least one of four major public welfare benefits (Medicaid, cash welfare, food stamps or Social Security benefits). For those ages 18-54, the figure is 46.3 percent, and 47.8 percent for older aliens.By comparison, 32 percent of the U.S.-born population receives some form of welfare. That’s not great but, as we are tirelessly told, legal immigrants are, on average, more highly educated than the native-born.Another study — “Better Educated, Not Better Off” — found that welfare use by new immigrants, even including those with college degrees, tripled in the past 10 years.In addition to tightening standards for aliens already in the country, the proposed reforms being finalized this month would reshape future legal immigration flows.“Specifically, it would become more difficult for children, the elderly, persons with lower levels of education and/or limited English proficiency, and those with incomes under 250 percent of the federal poverty level to enter and remain in the United States,” the MPI report stated.On that last note, the administration is looking to strengthen the standard for when receipt of public benefits can be used as grounds for deporting legally present noncitizens.Shifting from family-based chain migration to a merit-driven system is the only rational response to America’s need for productive citizens. This policy reform enhances immigrants’ prospects for success while lifting an unsustainable burden from U.S. taxpayers.MPI, a pro-migrant think tank, worries that the Trump administration could implement immigrant-welfare reforms “without the involvement of Congress.” Amid the chronic gridlock and dysfunction on Capitol Hill, that’s a strong selling point.
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