Shikha Dalmia Debunks the Myth that Latino Immigrants are Welfare Queens in Bloomberg View


The Heritage Foundation and Senator Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican and a perennial anti-immigration warrior,  are trying hard to keep alive the mistaken belief that low-skilled immigrants strain America's welfare system. Sessions has repeatedly accused the Obama administration of "defying federal laws" and letting foreigners in without first showing they could support themselves, and the Heritage Foundation is preparing to release an updated version of a controversial study it did several years ago offering its own evidence of this claim.

But regardless of how much they spin the facts, notes Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia in the Bloomberg View, the truth is that letting more poor, low- skilled foreigners won't overburden America's social-welfare system. In fact, it might do the opposite: Stretch it out a bit more because these immigrants consume less welfare than the native born and they reduce welfare use by the native born. She notes:

Restrictionists regard the 1990s as the decade of mass migration, when immigrants supposedly flooded in and threatened American jobs and wages. But the country had low unemployment during many of those years. More to the point, the size of the underclass shrank overall. While the number of immigrant households living in poverty increased by 194,000 from 1995 to 2004, the number of American households below the poverty line declined by 675,000.

This suggests that as foreigners moved into the lower class, they pushed more native-born people into the middle class.

Go here to read the whole thing.

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  1. 75% of the folks that Shikha wants to reward will vote for the ever growing state. But hey, if we keep importing them in the tens of millions, we will make libertarian ideals triumph!

    1. right, we should only support the rights of people that will vote the way we want.

      1. Libertarianism (the political movement) is not a suicide pact.

        1. Says who?

          But seriously, it’s not libertarian if you don’t respect everyone’s rights.

          1. Like the right to welfare. EQUAL PROTECTION n’ all that.

            1. Not giving people free stuff is not the same a arbitrarily denying some people certain legal privileges that other similarly situate people can have.

              But in any case, I don’t see any reason why an immigrant is any less (or more) entitled to money the government stole from me. Neither did much to earn it.

              1. What is the source of the right of individuals to move into a sovereign state regardless of what the citizens of the state want?

                1. Freedom of association.

                  Are you really so retarded that you think you have a right to exercise a veto over who your neighbors do business with?

                  1. I think the members of any club have the right to decide who can obtain the benefits of membership.

                    1. immigration is membership, migration is not.

                    2. I think you meant to say, “naturalization is membership, migration is not.”

                    3. I’m not a member of your stupid club. I don’t want to be a member of your stupid club.

                      You thus have no say as to who I do business with.

                    4. A majority of the members have outvoted you.

                    5. That’s nice. I’m still not in your club, so your ‘votes’ are utterly meaningless.

                      The threats of physical violence with which your club imposes its will on the unwilling, mean that I keep my head down.

                      But that doesn’t make you right, it just makes you brutal.

                    6. If you’re an anarchist, please just say so. It would save the rest of us a lot of trouble.

                    7. Oh, I’m sorry! Are you slow? Do you need someone to hold your hand and to introduce you around?

                    8. I’m not a member of your stupid club. I don’t want to be a member of your stupid club.

                      Then leave.

                      I’m a member of a country club, but I don’t want it to be a country club I want it to be a condo development. And I don’t care what the other club members say, so I’m just going to start developing.

                    9. The country is not a club. The comparison is not apt. If it were a club that works as you suggest, then a majority vote should be sufficient to strip someone of citizenship.

                    10. The bylaws of the club require going through several steps to do that.

                2. freedom of movement

                  1. Giving the right different names doesn’t establish its source.

                    1. Where do you think your right to life comes form?

                    2. From a vote of course! If we all vote to against Xlotl’s, he doesn’t have one anymore!

                    3. Still doesn’t answer the question.

                    4. I vote against Xlotl. 1 more vote for and he’ll have no right to complain against this duly voted outcome. That’s the way it works, right?

                    5. 1 more vote for against

                    6. So Xotl, where does your right to life come from? You may feel it comes from God, or that it arises materialistically from your existence as a human being, or like Hermann-Hoppe from your ability to think and argue.

                      Your freedom of association and movement come from the same place. If you are feel that other people have a veto over who you can buy land, or bus tickets from, I would suspect you would have a tough time explaining why other people have a veto over whether you are permitted to draw breath.

                    7. How do you respond to a lefty who claims that his right to collectively-paid-for medical care comes from the same place?

                    8. I tell him he has no right to my labor, that I am not his slave, and if he feels otherwise, here are my socks to wash.

                      Was that a serious question?!?

                    9. Bald assertion vs. bald assertion.

                    10. If you believe that might makes right, please just say so. It would save the rest of us a lot of trouble.

                    11. Forget it Mike, he’s not worth bothering with. He has yet to successfully string two sentences together within a single comment. He’s either an idiot or a successful troll.

                    12. I love this subject turns some “libertarians” into clones of Tony (at least in terms of the logic they use)

                    13. Whenever I raise these issues with open-borders dogmatists, I never get a straight answer. They’re always ready to pound the table in favor of some free-floating axiomatic right, but they can never explain why the rest of us should agree that the rights that are axiomatic to them trump the rights that are axiomatic to dogmatists of some other stripe.

                    14. Oh I’m sorry my mentally challenged friend.

                      I’ve got your straight answer right here:

                      Dismantling a ‘Libertarian’ Argument for Restricting Immigration

                      The Simple Argument in Favor of Open Borders:
                      I have a right to do business with whomever I want so long as they are willing and able to do business with me.

                      The Simple Argument in Favor of Open Borders Explained in Greater Detail:
                      I have a right to do business with whomever I want so long as they are willing and able to do business with me. So long as that person does not trespass on someone else’s property or steal anyone else’s property in order to do business with me, no one else has the right to physically restrain me from doing business with them. As I wrote in an earlier post:

                    15. No, when confronted with a person who desires to leave Mexico, purchase a plane ticket from an airline, fly to Atlanta, rent an apartment from a property owner, find employment in a factory, all of which are peaceful transactions that any individual should be free to do, the vast majority of White Nationalists cheerfully and openly call upon others to thwart these peaceful transactions at every turn. They want armed men to prevent him from stepping off the aircraft, from being allowed to rent the property, from being allowed to enter an employment contract with the factory, from driving on public roads, etc. They wish to force all these transactions to be constrained for people who aren’t members of the White race.

                      When a person considers how limits on immigration are put into effect, one immediately can see that liberty is destroyed, not enhanced by such restrictions. The armed man preventing an airline from permitting a paying customer from boarding, preventing a man from renting an apartment, or from selling his labor services to a factory is attacking not only the man whom they are trying to keep out of the country, but those with whom that man wishes to do business. These restrictions inherently involve attacks on liberty.

                    16. Again, more bald assertions. To take just one example: “These restrictions inherently involve attacks on liberty.” So? Why should someone who believes that, to a certain point, liberty should give way to order, surrender his belief? Just because you say so?

                    17. I’m not demanding that you to surrender a belief so I’m not sure what you’re whining about.

                    18. You’re saying that it’s wrong to oppose open borders, and like most open-borders types, you’ve acted (with a great deal of self-righteous smugness) as if reciting formulas such as “freedom of association and movement” ends the argument. That doesn’t end the argument any more than a quotation from the Bible ends an argument between a Christian and an atheist over the origins of life.

                    19. Ok, if you don’t actually believe in individual rights, then come out and say it. Tony would be proud

                    20. No, you can believe that doing business with Mexicans is bad and I won’t prevent you.

                      You can even act on your belief and refuse to do business with them to your heart’s content. I’ll make fun of you, but I won’t prevent you.

                      But, when you try to impose your will on me and force me to not do business with Mexicans because it’s too disordered for your taste, I will call you out as an immoral piece of shit and say you have no right to do what you are attempting.

                      I trust we won’t hear any more whining about not getting a straight answer?

    2. Tough thing about being libertarian is that you need to support everyone’s rights, not just those of people who agree with you. Otherwise, you are just like a progressive who thinks that freedom is great as long as it only involves things they approve of.
      Most immigrants come to work. If supposed proponents of economic freedom were less hostile to them they might be more prone to vote for the things that have made the US a good place to come to to work.

      1. Most of the people I’ve met just want to work and then go back home. But they end up staying here becausegoing back and forth is so treacherous. But noooo we can’t make travel easier so they can come and go as they please ad not become citizens.

        1. Yeah, I think that the best thing would be to make it as easy as reasonably possible for people to come temporarily to work.

          1. Of course. And that could have easily been sold to the public, long ago. The problem is that Democratic pols don’t want cheap workers to compete with unions, they want to import voters. And Republican pols want cheap workers but no voters.

            1. True. I don’t necessarily think it’s to import voters persay, but it’s definitely for political gain rather than caring about freedom of association or movement.

    3. Libertarianism is apparently a suicide pact.

      1. Libertarianism is a belief that you own yourself and from that stems the belief that no one with a gun should tell you who you can or cannot associate with.

        The fact that a certain country has established a system of taking money from some people and giving it to others does not change the belief that you are free to associate with whoever you choose.

    4. Yeah, because the people voting for George Bush and Mitt Romney totally aren’t voting for the ever growing state.

  2. This suggests

    You can’t be more scientifically certain than “this suggests”.

    1. It’s about the best you can do with social sciences.

      1. It’s about the best you’ll get from a Shikha article.

        Really, I find her articles to be very annoying. Even though I usually agree with her in principle, her arguments are shitty.

        1. You mean like:

          letting more poor, low- skilled foreigners won’t overburden America’s social-welfare system. In fact, it might do the opposite: Stretch it out a bit more because these immigrants consume less welfare than the native born and they reduce welfare use by the native born.

          Wait, what? Where is the causation to “reduce welfare use by the native-born?” I generally support immigration, but what the hell?

          1. To be fair, that’s in the description of the article and not the article itself.

            But she jumps incoherently from one subject to another, she conflates issues, she hand waves away studies she doesn’t like without countering them directly with real numbers.

            She starts out with this supposition:

            A perennial objection to relaxing the border with Mexico is that the U.S. has to stop poor, low- skilled foreigners from overburdening its social-welfare system. In fact, the opposite is the case: Immigrants help protect this safety net for everyone.

            But never bothers to actually make a solid case for the last sentence. That’s what the entire article should have been about. Or, it could have been a debunking of claims that legal immigrants are a burden on the system. Or it could have been an article about how illegal immigrants mitigate the cost of illegal immigration by growing the economy. Instead she just throws it all together, freely mixing separate issues, without even trying to make a coherent argument.

        2. Shikha always gets the best titles too.

          “Shikha DEBUNKS…”

          “Shikha Dalmia TAKES ON…”

          I think the reason they are so underwhelming is her titles seem to be written by Don King. The copy always suggests she is about to, once and for all, lay waste to the orthodoxy of every other political movement with blinding logic no one has ever thought of… but then its just kind of the same ol’ thing.

  3. Sometimes man, you jsut have to roll with it.

  4. no one has ever claimed that all Latino immigrants, legal or not, are welfare queens. But it is a bit much to believe that the welfare state is NOT part of the lure.

    And by the way, Sessions is not “an immigration warrior”; he’s opposed to illegal immigration. Is Dalmia auditioning to write for the AP and join the ranks of never saying ‘illegal’ re: immigration?

    1. But it is a bit much to believe that the welfare state is NOT part of the lure.

      Implying that poor hispanic immigrants will behave the same as every other group of people wrt the welfare state is just racist.

    2. It’s hard to believe it’s much of an incentive, since most welfare here isn’t available to illegal immigrants. I doubt many people come here in the hope they’ll be able to maybe access it some day.

      1. most welfare here isn’t available to illegal immigrants.

        And yet, Lefty California passed a proposition which would deny them these things which they can’t get. I wonder why? Even more strangely, the California SC then ruled the proposition, which effects no one, unconstitutional.

        1. Link please.


            Also, note the title

            CA’s Anti-Immigrant Proposition 187 is Voided

            So apparently the ACLU (and others) think that not providing welfare to illegal aliens is anti-immigrant

        2. Except Prop 187, while about immigration, wasn’t about welfare eligibility:

          Passed in November 1994, Proposition 187 sought, among other things, to require police, health care professionals and teachers to verify and report the immigration status of all individuals, including children.

          And the law being struck down didn’t give welfare eligibility to illegal immigrants. If you’re going to claim they have welfare eligibility, go ahead and show it. Referencing laws like this doesn’t in any way establish that immigrants are eligible for most welfare, even in California.

      2. Much like guns aren’t available to those who can’t legally possess them, I suppose.

        1. That comparison makes no sense. Guns are property items that can be obtained from individuals that own them. Welfare is given out by the state. Unless you’re referring to charity, which I doubt.

      3. In San Francisco, illegal immigrants get health care, food assistance, and subsidized housing.

        1. And we avoid deporting dangerous gangsters, keeping them around until they slaughter entire families.

          1. Are you claiming illegal immigrants are more prone to murder than legal immigrants or native-born citizens? If not, how does this particular incident justify current immigration policy? There will always be individuals who choose to murder, citizen or not. And there isn’t a way to predict who will do so.

            1. As a “sanctuary city” we avoid deporting illegals, even when we should. Current immigration policy is massively screwed up, in part because we make it difficult for the people we should want to immigrate, but easier for the illegals, who are often a drain on social services.

              I was also told by a doctor at a free clinic that SF has an “epidemic” of TB, brought in by illegal immigrants.

              1. Illegal immigrants don’t use welfare programs at a greater rate than natives do. Depending on the program, legal immigrants may, although most spending on immigrant households is driven by the fact that many have native-born children.

                In any case, I have no interest in abridging liberty to uphold the solvency of this country’s welfare state, and studies have shown that immigrants are likely a net benefit to the economy. If they are a net negative, it’s not a significant effect, certainly not enough to justify the authoritarian, utilitarian policies that people are advocating.

          2. Statistics show that immigrants, legal or illegal, commit crime at a lower rate than native citizens do. Do you want me to link to all the murders committed by native US citizens? The actions of this guy doesn’t justify deporting (or stopping them from coming in the first place) other immigrants any more than Sandy Hook justifies outlawing guns for gun owners who aren’t murderers or violent criminals.

            1. My point is that in SF and elsewhere, illegal immigrants get cut a lot of slack. If police arrest a gangster for something (anything), and he’s here illegally, why should he not be deported? Political correctness.

              I have issues with the libertarian position on open borders, but surely even doctrinaire libertarians support deporting illegal alien criminals…?

        2. First, I’d like a link to the references to this policy, if you have them. Even then, one city doing this doesn’t invalidate my claim that welfare here isn’t eligible for most illegal immigrants. That’s true, and I somehow doubt poor people from countries south of us do research about welfare eligibility before they come here.

            1. San Francisco touts services for illegal immigrants. I don’t think much has changed since 2008.

              “Services” /=/ “welfare”, which is what we’re talking about.

              Illegal Aliens Get Millions In Monthly Welfare Checks

              Except the welfare they’re referring to ISN’T for illegal immigrants, but their children who are natural-born citizens.

              That history could repeat itself in the current downturn, as activists opposed to illegal immigration have launched a campaign for an initiative that would, among other things, cut off welfare payments to the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. Those children are eligible for welfare benefits because they are U.S. citizens.

              So I stand by my claim that illegal immigrants aren’t eligible for most welfare.

        3. Best argument for or against a federal law ever!

    3. He’s not a drug warrior, he’s just opposed to ILLEGAL drugs!

      And please cite the clause in the Constitution that justifies current immigration law. Unless you’re going to butcher the English language and claim that “naturalization” is synonymous with “immigration” you’re not going to find it.

  5. AirIndia is ready when you are Dalmia. Head back home and import all the 3rd world savages you want. Leave America alone.

    1. Lurv it ‘r leave it!!!

    2. Fuck off. I’m American and I want to import “third world savages” here.

    3. I can’t imagine why brown people flock to the Democratic Party.

    4. douchesayswhat?

    5. Hey guys, I think I know who Chris Mallory is!

  6. But regardless of how much they spin the facts, notes Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia in the Bloomberg View, the truth is that letting more poor, low- skilled foreigners won’t overburden America’s social-welfare system. In fact, it might do the opposite: Stretch it out a bit more because these immigrants consume less welfare than the native born and they reduce welfare use by the native born.

    Yep, just look at CA for proof.

    Welfare is almost non existent in this state and government budgets are running surpluses so large that politicians cut taxes every year.

    1. CA might have some other problems.

      1. beyond having a third of the nation’s welfare recipients? On a grand scale, I’m sure you are right that other problems exist, but this is surely one of them.

        1. An old essay:

          Dr Hoppe is correct… to fear the consequences of an open borders policy coupled with a generous welfare state. One need only to look at the examples of France and England to see the consequences of allowing people to immigrate, denying them the ability to earn a living, and offering them a monthly stipend to sit around and do nothing. Of course, in such societies the problem is not limited to immigration itself, but any form of population growth. Every new baby born to someone living in the country has a similar chance of ending up as a strain on the capital stock of the country. Banning immigration serves only to prolong the inevitable collapse, and that if one accepts this as justification for preventing people from immigrating into some country, then one must also, to be consistent, be in favor of restricting births of new babies.

          But so what? Why should we expect further limits on liberty for the sole purpose of propping up a hostile political and economic regime? What loyalty do we owe the sort of state that seeks to create a permanent class of dependent, unemployed and unemployable?

          1. THIS^

            Bring on the collapse!

        2. I mean besides immigrants on welfare.

    2. ever see the line for the welfare office in LA? I’ll give you a clue. The predominant racial group isn’t Latino. Care to guess which it is?

      1. In the rest of the state the results vary greatly.

        The linked article and the sources cited were purposely devoid of information on the welfare disaster area that is Central California.

    3. Just look at Texas! Hey wait, maybe the differences between the two has nothing to do with immigration.

  7. We’re a long ways from ending welfare in this country so until we do it is only fair to support welfare equality. Only a xenophobic racist would want to deny the foreign born the same welfare benefits enjoyed by the natives.

    1. So you want to restrict liberty to prop up the welfare state? How progressive.

      1. How progressive.

        Well what do you expect from a Cosmotarian? Always defending welfare.

      2. So you want to restrict liberty to prop up the welfare state?

        Your progressive “positive liberty” to take from others by force? Yes

        1. That’s not what you’re advocating. You’re asserting your positive liberty to tell me who I can and can’t associate with.

          1. That’s not what you’re advocating.

            I’m not your strawman

            1. Then lay out your position. Or slink off. Whichever.

              1. My “position” is that Shikha’s analysis is sloppy and wrong, as usual.

                1. Sloppy, sure. But on what basis do you claim it is wrong?

    2. “Only a xenophobic racist would want to deny the foreign born the same welfare benefits enjoyed by the natives.”

      And while we’re at it, my children should have just as much right to your inheritance as your own children

  8. Anyone who says “Lazy Mexican” has never worked with a Mexican.

    1. Meh – I have seen both lazy and hard working – like they are humans or something.

  9. Of course, even if immigrants don’t come to the U.S. to live off the welfare state doesn’t mean they don’t end up doing so. The best evidence for this claim came in the 2007 Heritage Foundation study, which found that even though immigrants have been barred since 1996 from receiving federal means-tested benefits, their households still obtain about $20,000 more in benefits and services (such as schools and emergency medical care) than they pay in taxes. The study estimated that these costs imposed in 2004 a net burden of about $90 billion annually and a whopping $1 trillion over a decade.

    This would be cause for concern — if those numbers were the whole story. The study was criticized for counting government spending on the (American-born) children of immigrants but then ignoring the taxes these offspring paid when they grew up. By that standard, most middle-income families in the U.S. with three or more children in public schools would be a net burden.

    In an Ancap Society, or even a Big-L Libertarian US, I’d say throw open the doors, let everyone in. But Welfare State, Open Borders, something something.

    And yes, those middle income families with 3 kids in public schools are a net burden. Not sure why we’d want to import any more.

    1. But Welfare State, Open Borders, something something.

      The “something something” is “don’t give immigrants or their children targeted welfare for 18 years”.

    2. The CBO and Harvard Business School have published reports indicating immigrants are a net benefit to the economy. None of the reports indicate the net impact is very large in either direction.

      1. That’s the thing. Do immigrants put extra load on the welfare system. Maybe, maybe not. But in either case, it is a small difference, not big enough to impose such great restrictions on freedom of association and movement.

        1. Yes. Sometimes I fail to make explicit the ideas that are so obvious in my mind.

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