According to a study from the Center for Immigration Studies, which analyzed the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), 63% of non-citizen households in 2014 accessed welfare programs. The study states that “of non-citizens in Census Bureau data, roughly half are in the country illegally. Non-citizens also include long-term temporary visitors (e.g. guestworkers and foreign students) and permanent residents who have not naturalized (green card holders).”
In comparison to the 63% of non-citizen households that used at least one welfare program, 35% of native-headed households accessed at least one welfare program. 45% of non-citizen households used food programs; 21% of native households used them. 50% of non-citizen households used Medicaid as opposed to 23% of native households.
The study stated:
Welfare use is significantly higher for non-citizens than for natives in all four top immigrant-receiving states. In California, 72 percent of non-citizen-headed households use one or more welfare programs, compared to 35 percent for native-headed households. In Texas, the figures are 69 percent vs. 35 percent; in New York they are 53 percent vs. 38 percent; and in Florida, 56 percent of non-citizen-headed households use at least welfare program, compared to 35 percent of native households.
In October, the Trump administration started targeting for deportation immigrants caught cheating on welfare. L. Francis Cissna, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, stated, “What is new is that we are expanding the categories of people who are going to be receiving [notices to appear at deportation hearings] to, most principally, people who applied for a benefit and have no underlying lawful status … Starting today, Oct. 1, USCIS will begin implementing the updated NTA policy. Under the new guidance, USCIS officers will now issue an NTA for a wider range of cases where the individual is removable and there is evidence of fraud, criminal activity, or an applicant is denied an immigration benefit and is unlawfully present in the country.”
In August 2017, Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) wrote an op-ed in which they stated:
Our current immigration system achieves none of these goals. Each year, the United States accepts around 1 million immigrants as legal permanent residents, which is twice our historical average. That’s like adding the population of Montana every year, but only one out of fifteen immigrate for employment reasons. The majority come here on family-based visas, without regard to their skills or our needs. As a result, half of all immigrant households receive benefits from our social welfare system.
That’s not good for any American, but it has especially steep costs for people who work with their hands and on their feet for a living. Wages for Americans with only high-school diplomas have dropped by 2 percent since the late 1970s, and for those who didn’t finish high school, they’ve dropped by 17 percent. While the twin trends of automation and globalization have also strained working-class Americans, a steady supply of cheap, unskilled labor has as well. And immigration is the trend we can change most easily.