Normally, I enjoy studies from the Cato Institute because their libertarian analysis is right on the mark. However, I have come across an exception today. In its Immigration Reform Bulletin, Stuart Anderson writes a piece entitled "Evidence Shows Immigrants Come to Work, Not to Collect Welfare."
My first issue with this is that the data used was primarily from the former half of the decade, which can be problematic in analysis because America has gone through a recession since then. But let's presume the numbers are accurate. The study points out that 92% of illegal immigrants participate in the labor force, whereas natives only participate 83%. Most illegal immigrants who come to this country are looking for a better life. And in light of the narco-terrorism that has been going on in 2006, who can blame them? Mexicans can make a whole lot more in the States compared to what they were making in Mexico. Making a higher wage and sending it back to your family in a poorer nation increases your purchasing power parity immensely. Of course it's about the money! But getting welfare benefits on the side isn't necessarily mutually exclusive in this case. Within the first page of his bulletin, Anderson states that "eligibility for programs usually requires immigrants to have been in the United States for 5 years or more in a lawful immigration status." If that is true, he really would need to explain one of the tables he uses [see below]:
So here's my question to Anderson: why is it that the percentage of individual citizens (not households, like you were kvetching about earlier, but individuals) that are on entitlement programs comparable to that of the native citizenry?? I'm sure the typical Mexican is not thinking, "oh, I want America to give me benefits." They're thinking "I want a better way of life for my family." But just because they want a better life for their family does not negate the fact that the benefits they are receiving from the United States government is costing the taxpayer money.
I firmly believe that a stable nation needs to be one of enforceable laws that make sense (obviously, the smaller the government and the lesser the laws, the better, but there still need to be some laws to maintain society). If someone breaks a law, they should be punished in proportion to their crime. Although I do not agree with the method in which illegal immigrants arrive in this country, it is not prudent to blame the Mexicans. After all, Uncle Sam is the one cutting the check for non-citizens to have Medicaid and food stamps. Big Government is the one perpetuating the problem. This is something that Anderson does not touch upon.
In spite of their legal status, do illegal immigrants work hard? On the whole, yes. Are they the real source of the problem? Absolutely not! If the government cut back on its entitlement programs as a whole, there would be no "mooching." If this happened, I would guarantee that many more Americans would view immigrants, legal or illegal, in a positive light. That way, illegal immigrants would be less inclined to insulate themselves in barrios and can actually integrate into society. By drastically cutting back on these programs, or even better, getting rid of them, we can benefit immigration reform, as well as the economy. Wouldn't that be something?