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Denying Green Cards to Legal Immigrants Won't Fix the Welfare System — It Will Cost Taxpayers More

August 17, 2018 in Economics

By Alex Nowrasteh

Alex Nowrasteh

The Trump administration will soon place new limits on legal
immigration with a regulatory change that will penalize newcomers
just because they could use public benefits in the U.S.
The point, according to a spokesman for the president, is “to
ensure that the government takes the responsibility of being good
stewards of taxpayer funds.”

In the long run, however, the proposed rule will amount to the
opposite of good stewardship: It will cost the government, and
taxpayers, much more than it will save.

The Department of Homeland Security and the State Department
already consider whether immigrants are likely to become “a
public charge” before issuing visas to them, or granting them
permanent resident status (green cards). The administration’s
modified rule would codify that process, setting new, stricter
standards.

Leaked drafts of the regulation show that immigrants could be at
risk if the government thinks they might consume, over a
year, as little as $1 a day (for primary immigrants), or 50 cents a
day (for each person in a family of four), in public benefits. Even
the welfare consumption of an immigrant’s citizen children
— their use of food stamps, say, or Medicaid — would
count in the calculation.

Under the new rule, many lawful migrants already in the U.S.
would no longer qualify for green cards. It could put their
livelihoods at risk, turn some of them into illegal immigrants or
force them to leave the country. Their wages and their
families’ fortunes would drop, but their U.S.-born citizen
children would still have access to welfare. Those children would
become a bigger burden to U.S. taxpayers.

To justify the new
policy, the administration not only ignores the research, it rigs
the regulation to make sure it produces a negative result for
immigrants.

The new rule would also tend to target younger immigrants
because they generally have lower incomes than their older
counterparts. However, a recent National Academy of Sciences report
found that younger immigrants in particular pay more into the
system than they take out over the course of their lives. They are
also likely to have children in the future and, as the report said,
although second-generation immigrants as children “absorb
slightly more [public] benefits,” they also contribute
“considerably more in taxes during working ages” than
other immigrants and American citizens.

In the draft of the rule, the Trump administration explicitly
rejects crafting a regulation based on its long-term fiscal impact
because, according to the administration, “there is a lack of
academic literature or economic research examining the link between
immigration and public benefits.” On the contrary: There is a
vast archive of peer-reviewed studies that analyze the costs and
benefits of …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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