+
Democracy

A new study completely debunks one of the worst stereotypes about immigrants

They use fewer public benefits than native-born citizens.

u.s. immigration, welfare use, immigrants

Naturalization Ceremony at Harriet Tubman National Historical Park on August 8, 2019.

One of the most pernicious stereotypes about immigrants in the United States is that they take more from the country than they give back because they are more likely to use welfare benefits than native-born citizens. These stereotypes lead to public policies that reduce the number of immigrants coming into the country and make it harder for those who are here to get green cards.

“Immigrants are more likely to be less educated and to work in low-skilled occupations than native-born Americans. As a result, Americans wrongly think that immigrants are big consumers of welfare,” Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst currently working at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity of the Cato Institute, told Upworthy.

“Immigrants are also more likely to be ethnic and racial minorities than native-born Americans, which might feed the stereotype that they are more likely to consume welfare,” Nowrasteh added.

These stereotypes create a hostile environment for immigrants that makes it harder for them to succeed and assimilate. It also leads to statutes that unfairly target them.


In 2019, the Trump administration implemented a “public charge rule” to make it harder for immigrants to become U.S. citizens. The new rule said the government could deny green cards to anyone who used anti-poverty programs they legally qualified for such as food stamps, Medicaid, prescription-drug subsidies and housing vouchers.

“Those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a press release. The rule was enacted to “promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.”

The rule was overturned in 2021.

A recent study published by the Cato Institute refutes these anti-immigrant stereotypes by proving that they consume fewer welfare entitlement benefits than native-born U.S. citizens on a per-capita basis.

The study, “Immigrant and Native Consumption of Means-Tested Welfare and Entitlement Benefits in 2019” by Nowrasteh and Michael Howard, found that in 2019, immigrants—both legal and undocumented—consumed 28% less welfare and entitlement benefits than native-born Americans on a per capita basis. These new figures widened the 7% gap between immigrants and native-born Americans that was found in 2016.

The study reviewed means-tested programs including Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). It also considered Social Security and Medicare.

“Working-age and elderly immigrants tend to consume more Medicaid benefits than native-born Americans in the same age groups, but for all other large programs and many minor ones, natives are more expensive than immigrants on a per capita basis,” the report reads. “This exception is possibly due to a substitution effect: fewer immigrants qualify for the more expensive entitlement programs such as Medicare and more have legal access to Medicaid.”

However, Nowrasteh told Upworthy that if Medicare and Social Security were removed from the study, native-born Americans would still consume 23% more welfare than immigrants. He added that “excluding the entitlement programs narrows the gap but does not close it.”

Studies also show that in the long term, immigrants contribute more to the government's revenue than they receive in social spending. A study published by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that the value of each immigrant to the U.S. is $259,000.

“If immigrants are assigned the marginal cost of public goods, then the long-run fiscal impact is positive and the short-run effect is negative but very small (less negative than that of natives),” a Federal Reserve summary said.

To put it simply, even if an immigrant uses some welfare benefits after first arriving in the U.S., their net benefit over a lifetime to the system is positive.

But immigrants shouldn’t just be welcomed in America because it helps the bottom line. America should continue its humane duty to be a home for anyone who wishes to contribute to this land of opportunity and live to their full potential.

“Workers, family members, and refugees should be allowed to come to the United States legally in far greater numbers than they do today. The median immigrant worker can expect a 4-fold increase in real income by coming to the United States, even accounting for differences in the cost of living,” Nowrasteh told Upworthy.

The Trump administration's hardline immigration policies along with the pandemic created a historic drop in immigrants coming to the United States between 2016 and 2021. But with the new administration, there is a chance for some positive change, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

“The Biden administration has mostly reopened legal immigration to the point where it was prior to the pandemic—but that’s about it for the legal immigration system,” Nowrasteh said. “Immigration policy just isn’t a priority for the Biden administration. Immigration enforcement is a mess, which is better than the alternative. So far, the Biden administration has vastly underperformed expectations.”

The United States is suffering from a labor shortage, partly due to a drastic reduction in the inflow of migrants looking for jobs. Allowing more immigrants into the country and expediting the citizenship process would give a much-needed post-COVID jolt to the economy.

Further, the United States has an aging population and a low birth rate, so to keep the country thriving it needs an influx of young immigrants. The financial health of the country’s Social Security and Medicare programs will be severely strained without an increased number of young workers paying taxes to support the elderly.

Immigrants provide tremendous value to America’s culture and productivity and are a vital part of supporting the social programs that guarantee a high quality of life for Americans of all ages. By pushing back against the dated and incorrect stereotype that immigrants are a drain on the system we can help promote policies and a culture that fulfills America’s promise and welcome them with open arms.

Sponsored

ACUVUE launches a new campaign to inspire Gen Z to put down their phones and follow their vision

What will you create on your social media break? Share it at #MyVisionMySight.

True

If you’ve always lived in a world with social media, it can be tough to truly understand how it affects your life. One of the best ways to grasp its impact is to take a break to see what life is like without being tethered to your phone and distracted by a constant stream of notifications.

Knowing when to disconnect is becoming increasingly important as younger people are becoming aware of the adverse effects screen time can have on their eyes. According to Eyesafe Nielsen, adults are now spending 13-plus hours a day on their digital devices, a 35% increase from 2019.1. Many of us now spend more time staring at screens on a given day than we do sleeping which can impact our eye health.

Normally, you blink around 15 times per minute, however, focusing your eyes on computer screens or other digital displays have been shown to reduce your blink rate by up to 60%.2 Reduced blinking can destabilize your eyes’ tear film, causing dry, tired eyes and blurred vision.3

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

18-year-old took her college savings and bought the restaurant where she was a dishwasher

Samantha Frye, the newest owner of Rosalie's restaurant, is proving there's more than one way to invest in your future.

Canva

There are many way to invest in your future

Eighteen year old Samantha Frye has traded college life for entrepreneurship, and she has no regrets.

Frye began working at Rosalie's Restaurant in Strasburg, Ohio at 16 as a dishwasher, working up the ranks as a kitchen prep, server, then line cook. All while working a second job, sometimes third job.

After graduating high school, Frye started college at Ohio State with plans of studying business or environmental engineering. But when she came back to work a shift at Rosalie’s for winter break, an opportunity arose—the owners had planned to sell the restaurant.
Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Man rewatches shows from his childhood and his recaps of the bonkers storylines are priceless

Rob Anderson's hilarious recaps of shows like "Mighty Ducks," "Beethoven," and "7th Heaven" might make you wonder how they got made in the first place.

@hearthrobert/TikTok

These plots makes zero sense.

While there are no doubt some timeless classics from our childhood that remain every bit as amazing as we remember, many are straight-up cringey upon a later viewing. Really, it’s to be expected as societal viewpoints change…sort of a marker of how far we’ve collectively come.

And so, what do we do with these problematic pieces of old-school pop culture? Well, we can certainly update them to better reflect a more modern attitude, but that also comes with a set of potential problems. Or we could simply never watch them again. Certainly an option given all the content out there. But then we might miss an opportunity to better understand what seemed to work for the mainstream then, and why it doesn’t work now.

And then there’s the third option—allow ourselves to be entertained by their cringiness.

That’s certainly the route taken by Rob Anderson. Over on TikTok, Anderson has taken ultra-popular movies and television shows from his childhood and given them hilarious recaps capturing how absurd some of the storylines are.
Keep ReadingShow less
@Steve_Perrault/Twitter

Some moments never get old.

On November 19, 1999, a man named John Carpenter made game show history and quite possibly gave us all the greatest game show moment of all time.

Carpenter was a contestant on the very first season of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” shot in America. Hosted by the late Regis Philbin, the quiz show featured three "lifeline" options to help them with difficult questions, the most popular being able to “Phone-a-Friend.”

Carpenter had impressively not used a single lifeline for any of his questions. That is, until question 15. The million-dollar question, to be exact.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Woman decides that she is the love of her life and marries herself at her retirement home

“I said, you know what, I’ve done everything else. Why not?”

77-year-old woman decides she's the love of her life and marries herself.

We joke about marrying ourselves or a platonic friend if some arbitrary amount of time has passed without a proposal from an imaginary suitor. And sure, some people do wind up marrying a friend in more of a business arrangement, but it's not very common that someone follows through with marrying themselves.

Dorothy "Dottie" Fideli, decided that she was going to break the mold. The 77-year-old sat down and thought about all of the things she had done in life and who was with her the entire time cheering her on. It was an easy answer: herself. She was her biggest cheerleader, the person who always showed up and the love of her life, so Fideli made the plan to marry herself.

On a beautiful May day, friends and family gathered in the O’Bannon Terrace Retirement Community, where Fideli is a resident, to witness the ceremony.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

12-year-old Texas girl saves her family from carbon monoxide poisoning

She knew something was wrong with her mom and brother, which wound up saving her whole family.

Fort Worth 12-year-old helps save family from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is called a silent killer for a reason. Many people don't realize they're experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning before it's too late. The gas is colorless and odorless and tends to have a sedating effect that causes people to sleep through the fatal poisoning. Having carbon monoxide detectors is one of the most effective ways to identify the gas before it's too late to get out of the house, but not every home has one.

A little girl in Fort Worth, Texas, experienced a terrifying encounter with the deadly gas, but her quick actions saved her entire family. Jaziyah Parker is being held up as a hero after she realized something was wrong with her family members and called for help.

The girl called 911 after she noticed her mom pass out. On the call with the dispatcher, Jaziyah says she thinks her mother has died before explaining that there was something now wrong with her baby brother, who was just 5-months-old.

Keep ReadingShow less

Drew Barrymore speaks during the FLOWER Beauty launch at Westfield Parramatta on April 13, 2019, in Sydney, Australia.

Drew Barrymore, 48, has been in the public consciousness since she starred as Gertie in 1982’s mega-blockbuster, “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” a performance that earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. So, it makes sense that many people of a certain age feel as if they’ve grown up with her.

Barrymore has consistently starred in hit films and movies that are rewatchable cable-TV staples, such as “Charlie's Angels” (2000), “Never Been Kissed” (1999), “Scream” (1996), “The Wedding Singer” (1998), “50 First Dates” (2004) and “Fever Pitch” (2005).

Now, she’s an even more significant part of people’s lives as the host of “The Drew Barrymore Show,” which runs every weekday on CBS. So far, the show has been a big success, attracting an average of 1.21 million views per show, and ranks as the #4 talk show in syndication. It was recently renewed through the 2024 season.

Keep ReadingShow less