Census: Immigrants on welfare triples, Medicaid doubles

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Jesus Berrones holds his five-year-old son, Jayden, as his wife, Sonia, looks on at the Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, where he has sought sanctuary to avoid deportation back to his native Mexico. The church is among congregations around the US who allow some special cases of immigrants scheduled for deportation to stay in their sanctuaries until the legal threat has passed. Jayden was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016 and is undergoing a three-year course of chemotherapy. (Anita Snow/AP)

Welfare and Medicaid use by new immigrants, even those with college degrees, has surged to new levels, an indication that the jobs they came to America to take aren’t there, according to a new report.

The Census Bureau charted the growth in the use of taxpayer-funded programs for financially poor new immigrants and found the biggest rise in the use of welfare, roughly triple over the last 10 years.

And, according to an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies, the use of Medicaid by immigrants has gone up nearly as much.

Steven Camarota, the center’s director of research and the study’s lead author, highlighted those two Census data points in noting that it has happened despite the increase in education levels for immigrants. He also found that new immigrants are twice as likely to live in poverty as native born Americans.

His key findings in the report titled Better Educated, But Not Better Off:

  • The share of new immigrants in poverty was slightly higher in 2017 than in 2007, and the gap with natives widened slightly. Overall, new immigrants remained twice as likely to live in poverty as natives.
  • In 2007, 6 percent of new immigrants were on Medicaid; by 2017 it was 17 percent — an 11 percentage-point increase. The share of natives on Medicaid increased from 7 percent to 13 percent — a six percent­age-point increase. New immigrants are now more likely to use the program than natives.
  • The share of new immigrants living in households receiving food stamps roughly tripled from 4 percent to 13 percent from 2007 to 2017. Among natives, food stamp use also increased, but not as much, from about 6 percent to 10 percent. New immigrants are now more likely to live in a household on food stamps.

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