Immigrants and the Welfare State

Article subtitle: 
Why is the GOP not speaking out?
Article author: 
Andrew Stiles
Article publisher: 
National Review Online
Article date: 
4 November 2013
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

Welfare reform is usually an issue Republicans are more than happy to discuss. However, in the context of the debate over reforming the immigration system, the GOP has been relatively silent on matters of welfare...

The Senate immigration bill would amend existing law so that immigrants likely to become a public charge would no longer be considered “inadmissible,” or prohibited from obtaining legal status.

That’s not to say that this change would represent a significant departure from current policy under the Obama administration. A 2012 analysis by Republican staff on the Senate Budget Committee found that out of 10.37 million applications for immigrant and non-immigrant visas processed by the State Department in fiscal year 2011, just 7,069 were rejected on public-charge grounds — 0.068 percent..

With respect to one particular program — the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which allows immigrants to temporarily enter the country for a 90-day period, but without an adequate tracking system to make sure they leave on time — DHS said that fewer than 10,000 applications were denied on public-charge grounds between 2005 and August 2012 — just 0.0084 percent of the total number of applications approved during that period...

...the fact that the Gang of Eight bill calls for a substantial increase in the number of low-skilled immigrants — those most likely to become dependent on welfare programs — has been largely absent from the immigration debate, and mostly ignored by media reports, in which the issue is almost exclusively framed as a disagreement over whether or not to give illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship.

Meanwhile, even liberal parties in countries such as Great Britain are rethinking their support for high levels of low-skilled immigration, and have been talking about trying to reduce welfare use among immigrants. But in the U.S., leaders in both parties have shown little interest.