Illegal immigrant households receive an average of $5,692 in federal welfare benefits every year, far more than the average "native" American household, at $4,431, according to a new report on the cost of immigration released Monday.
The Center for Immigration Studies, in an analysis of federal cost figures, found that all immigrant-headed households — legal and illegal — receive an average of $6,241 in welfare, 41 percent more than native households. As with Americans receiving benefits such as food stamps and cash, much of the welfare to immigrants supplements their low wage jobs.
The total cost is over $103 billion in welfare benefits to households headed by immigrants. A majority, 51 percent, of immigrant households receive some type of welfare compared to 30 percent of native households, said the analysis of Census data.
Immigrants receiving the most in the study of 2012 figures come from Mexico and Central America. Their average annual taxpayer funded welfare collection is $8,251, 86 percent higher than the benefits used by native households, said the report.
"While it is important for Americans to understand the rate of welfare use among immigrants, expressing that use in dollar terms offers a more tangible metric that is tied to current debates over fiscal policy. With the nation facing a long-term budgetary deficit, this study helps illuminate immigration's impact on the problem," wrote the report's author Jason Richwine, a Harvard educated analyst of immigration data.
The new report follows another that found President Obama seeking $17,613 for every new illegal minor, more than Social Security retirees get.
Richwine noted that illegal immigrants are barred from directly receiving welfare, but instead get it via their legal children. "Illegal immigrants are barred from directly accessing most (though not all) welfare programs, but they can receive welfare through their U.S.-born children. Legal immigrant households, which have greater eligibility for welfare, cost $6,378 on average," he wrote.
The key findings:
— The average household headed by an immigrant (legal or illegal) costs taxpayers $6,234 in federal welfare benefits, which is 41 percent higher than the $4,431 received by the average native household.
— The average immigrant household consumes 33 percent more cash welfare, 57 percent more food assistance, and 44 percent more Medicaid dollars than the average native household. Housing costs are about the same for both groups.
— At $8,251, households headed by immigrants from Central America and Mexico have the highest welfare costs of any sending region — 86 percent higher than the costs of native households.
— Illegal immigrant households cost an average of $5,692 (driven largely by the presence of U.S.-born children), while legal immigrant households cost $6,378.
— The greater consumption of welfare dollars by immigrants can be explained in large part by their lower level of education and larger number of children compared to natives. Over 24 percent of immigrant households are headed by a high school dropout, compared to just 8 percent of native households. In addition, 13 percent of immigrant households have three or more children, vs. just 6 percent of native households.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org