+
upworthy
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.

Grandma shows granddaughter shorthand

Grandparents can be a wealth of history and knowledge. But one TikTok user, Reagan Jones, was blown away by her grandmother's ability to write in shorthand, so she did what a lot of people do in this century—uploaded it to TikTok. Not surprisingly, most people who viewed the video had no idea what shorthand was and some thought the whole thing was made up. The reaction to it certainly makes you question if it's more than a lost art, but a forgotten part of history.

Keep ReadingShow less
Science

Watch a rescued beaver meticulously build an indoor 'dam' out of random household items

Sawyer's ongoing struggle with SpongeBob SquarePants' legs is a must-see.

Sawyer checks her work once in a while as she builds her hallway dam.

The fact that beavers build dams is one of nature's coolest features. Gathering and stacking tree branches, rocks, grass and mud across a river so they can build their homes underwater is a unique instinct among the animals—and a strong one.

Apparently, it's so strong that beavers will build dams anywhere, including inside a human's house using whatever items they can find.

A video shared by Dr. Holley Muraco, director of research at the Mississippi Aquarium, shows a female beaver named Sawyer busily gathering stuffed animals, blankets, Christmas decorations, wrapping paper and more to build a dam in a hallway, and it's seriously the most delightful thing ever.

Keep ReadingShow less

A family fights over a baby name.

When it comes to parenting, the second most important decision—after whether to have a child or not—is choosing a name for the kid. Even though we live in times where parents are getting more and more creative about picking a name for their children, those with a more common name have a greater chance of being socially accepted than those without.

According to Psychology Today, grade-school kids with highly unusual names or names with negative associations tend to be “less popular” than those with more “desirable” names. Later in life, people with “unpopular or unattractive” names have more difficulty finding romantic partners.

A 23-year-old mother-to-be wanted to name her son Gaylord and had her family's full, passionate support, but her husband, 24, and his side of the family were firmly against the idea. The woman was looking for validation and posted about the dilemma on Reddit's AITA forum.

Keep ReadingShow less

TikTok user Absolutely Lauren catches an online scammer.

There was a massive jump in credit card fraud in America in 2021 due to the pandemic. According to CNET, fraud involving credit cards jumped 69% from 2020 to 2021, affecting 13 million Americans and costing $9 billion.

In a world where online transactions are part of everyday life, it’s hard to completely protect your information. But, by staying vigilant and monitoring your accounts you can report fraud before it gets out of hand.

A TikTok user by the name of Lauren (@absolutelylauren) from San Diego, California, got a notification that there was a $135 charge on her card at Olaplex’s online store that she hadn’t made. Olaplex sells products that repair excessively damaged hair. Before reporting the charge to her credit card company she asked her family members if they used her card by mistake.

“I don’t wanna shut my card down if it’s just my mom ordering some shampoo,” Lauren said in the video. “Definitely not my two younger brothers, they’ve got good hair but they don’t color it.”

Keep ReadingShow less
via Merkur.de

MRI image of an opera singer, singing.

A great opera voice is a learned art, not a natural-born gift like other styles of singing. It takes discipline, physical training, and to truly wow the audience, the performer must be a great actor and athlete as well.

"Singing opera is to ordinary vocal activity what distance running, triple-jumping and pole-vaulting are to ordinary exercise," said Sir Antonio Pappano, music director of the Royal Opera House wrote for the BBC. "Which means that singers and, almost as important, those who teach them are locked in the same kinds of relationship that obtain between elite athletes and charismatic coaches."

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

What to do when you're the child of an alcoholic

My dad was an addict, and growing up with him taught me a lot.

Photo with permission from writer Ashley Tieperman.

Ashley Tieperman and her father.


There was never just one moment in my family when we “found out" that my dad was an addict.

I think I always knew, but I never saw him actually drinking. Usually, he downed a fifth of vodka before he came home from work or hid tiny bottles in the garage and bathroom cabinets.

Keep ReadingShow less