Billions to be Saved by Tightening Welfare Rules



The White House is in the final stages of creating a proposal to clarify what constitutes a “public charge” when considering applications for U.S. citizenship. The Trump administration wants to prevent the American welfare system from becoming further burdened by taking into account “whether an alien is likely at any time to become a public charge under section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).”

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a “public charge” is “an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence…”

This is not a radical new change. In fact, the United States has always reserved the right to refuse citizenship to anyone who could not demonstrate an ability to financially support themselves and their families. Public charge clauses were first codified into federal law with the passage of the Immigration Act of 1882 which, in part, gave the federal government authority to restrict the entry of “any person unable to take care of him or herself without becoming a public charge.”

Unfortunately, the likelihood of an individual to become a public charge is hardly considered in the immigration process anymore.

From 2013 through 2016, the United States immigrant population grew at a net rate of approximately 530,000 individuals each year. The Census Bureau’s 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) revealed that approximately 50 percent of households headed by an immigrant used some form of welfare for themselves or another person in their household. The survey also indicated that approximately 90 percent are likely to remain on some form of welfare after 20 years, based on historical numbers.

For Medicaid alone, the same SIPP survey suggests that nearly 80,000 new immigrants enroll in the program each year. The average annual cost-per-enrollee for Medicaid was $5,736 in Fiscal Year 2014, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

If the current public charge rule is clarified to prioritize giving citizenship to those who demonstrate an ability to support themselves, and is implemented by 2020, the United States could see up to 1.1 million fewer immigrants enrolled in Medicaid by 2030, based on current population trends. Considering the average cost-per-enrollee, that could lead to a gross savings as high as $6.4 billion in the same time period.

Historically, immigrants were expected to assimilate into United States culture and carry their own weight financially. The federal government has all but abandoned this common-sense approach, opting instead for a system that favors family ties. Because of this, those who have much to offer the United States are often passed over for those who are likely to become a public charge.

It’s in the best interests of U.S. citizens to consider whether an applicant for citizenship will become a long-term public charge. This would prioritize merit-based applicants, and potentially save taxpayers billions of dollars every year.

About Author

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Spencer joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2015. He conducts research, and writes content for FAIR’s publications and website. He brings previous experience in state politics, gubernatorial and district campaigns, and D.C. political non-profits. Spencer holds a B.A. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin.

11 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Real Human Cost of Illegal Immigration - Liberty Nation

  2. avatar

    Most of what all the above are saying was on the books till Sen. Ted Kennedy messed around with the immigration laws. Unless this particular law has changed it use to be you had to be a legal immigrant for 5 yrs. before applying to study for American citizenship.. If you were married to an American citizen from your time of legal immigration entry you only had to wait 3 yrs. to apply. . We need to re-instate several Ellis islands at port of entry around the country. .. . Back in 1956 I went through that at Andrews Air Force base. All my paperwork & I were checked again. Even though it had been checked before my flight & the Air Force base in England. My husband had to sign at the American embassy that he would be responsible for all my bills

  3. avatar

    Deport all illegals that are not supporting themselves.
    Give the self supporting illegals 2-3 years to become citizens as long as continue to support themselves.
    No benefits for illegals:
    All immigrants must enter the legal way or they will be transported out

    • avatar

      Thomas Buyea 72 Miami, Fl. requesting help.

      Yes !! 200% !!
      I need but can not get section – 8
      But I live in an 88 unit apartment complex with I am told by the building manager that a Vast Majority of the Cuban immigrants receive section-8 that pays 70% of their rent (Cubans are a special case, So they probably receive 100% of their rent paid rather than the normal 70% section-8 pays ?) Any ideas for help would be appreciated.

  4. avatar

    Also, need to change the bastardization of the 14th Amendment that makes Citizens of babies born to illegal aliens and people here on travel VISAS.

  5. avatar

    Go Trump!

    Recently I have read some articles by the typical greedy, condescending hypocritical pro open borders Republicans that a wall can’t work (even though the Border Patrol says physical barriers are effective), if people want to come here illegally they can’t be stopped, etc. Who cares if it bankrupts the country, increases the violent crime rate in the US, more women and children get raped, political unrest increases, internal divisions in the US increase, etc. as long as it makes me richer.

    After all, I can live in a gated community to protect myself and attend cocktail parties with all my hypocrite friends as if we were the French aristocrats at Versailles and let all those Americans who aren’t as wise as media elites like me live out the consequences of all my great ideas.

    A saying comes to mind and applies very well to all of the greedy, corrupt people in this country who are in favor of open borders in order to profit from the cheap labor and/or more voters:

    “We are sewn with the seeds of our own destruction”.

  6. avatar

    It is ridiculous that people come here illegally, and then our government supports them with free services. Even if they come here legally, they live off the government their entire lives. I blame our government for all of it. It’s not right that anyone would take our programs and abuse them. This has got to stop!

  7. avatar

    The current immigration system is importing two commodities that are hardly in short supply, world-wide: poverty, and Cheap Labor. Dem’s love the poverty, because it keep the Welfare State going. RINO’ like the Cheap Labor.

  8. avatar

    People were turned around at Ellis Island and sent back for this very reason. Anyone who says differently does not know what they are talking about. Of course, they are essentially the same people who talk about “when your great grand parents came”. Total opposite of now. Those immigrants got no welfare because there was none. Nor was there a huge cost to the government for education. A lot of children went to school just to be able to read and write, because many were farmers. A 6th grade education was common. Now we spend huge sums for 12 years of schooling and produce many students who are functionally illiterate.

    You had to be tough and determined to come here a hundred years ago. Now we attract the welfare dependent who are looking for the gravy train. A large percentage coming now are low education which is almost a guarantee they will be on government assistance of some kind. We need to change birthright citizenship. Other nations have done it, including many European ones.

    Can anyone make a serious argument that the authors of the 14th amendment meant to allow “birth tourism”? Or that you could just walk across the border illegally and have a baby that is an American citizen? The whole final paragraph of the 1898 Supreme Court Wong Kim Ark decision was that he was a citizen because of his parent’s long time legal residence here. There is a legal theory called “fruit of the poisonous tree”, To put it briefly, the government cannot use evidence obtained by an illegal method. So a child should be a citizen in spite of the illegal act of their parent? And that anchor baby, yes it’s an accurate term, is used as a reason for the parents to stay here.

    • avatar

      They can not even read or write in their home language or even be understood well by Americans who speak Spanish etc. Because the illegals speak so much local slang !