Bypassing the number of immigrants living in the United States legally, although those numbers are far higher than native born Americans, I searched the report directly for the welfare use by those in the country illegally and the report indicates that 71 percent of illegal immigrants are receiving welfare benefits.
Table 6 reports welfare use based on the legal status of the household head. The estimates show that 51.8 percent of households with children headed by legal immigrants used at least one major welfare program in 2009. For households with children headed by an illegal immigrant, 71 percent are estimated to use at least one program.
The next table which shows what states have the highest use of welfare programs used by illegal immigrants.
Anyone surprised that California leads the chart?
Overall, households with children headed by legal and illegal immigrants have higher use rates than their native-born counterparts in most states. However illegal immigrants across the county tend to have very low use rates for cash assistance programs. On the other hand, households with children headed by illegal immigrants tend to have much higher use rates for food assistance and Medicaid than natives. For legal immigrant households, use of cash assistance is more varied, but in general it tends to be higher than for natives. Use of food assistance and Medicaid for legal immigrant households tends to be significantly higher than for natives in almost every state.
They also include a dose of reality for those that continue to push policy that would give illegal immigrants any type of amnesty.
Illegal Immigrants. If welfare costs are to be avoided for illegal immigrants, then enforcement of the law and encouraging them to return to their home countries would make the most sense. Given the low educational attainment of so many illegal immigrants, allowing them to stay in the country means that welfare costs will remain high as well. Legalizing illegal immigrants would likely be the most costly policy option. Research indicates that half or more of illegal immigrants have not graduated high school and another 25 to 30 percent have only a high school education. Less-educated immigrants in the country legally have very high welfare use rates. Since legalization would in effect create millions of new less-educated legal immigrants, it seems clear that use of welfare programs would rise accordingly.
Of course, any amnesty would likely be accompanied by some restrictions on welfare for amnesty beneficiaries. However, these restrictions would almost certainly be limited in time; moreover they would not apply once a legalized immigrant becomes a citizen. Most importantly, any limitation on welfare use would have no impact on the eligibility of immigrants’ U.S.-born children. As we have seen, the presence of U.S.-born children has enormous implications for welfare use among immigrant households. Those that support legalization have to at least acknowledge the low education levels of illegal immigrants and what it means for use of the welfare system.
Read the entire report.