Almost half of immigrants reliant on public assistance
Study underscores need for programs to help immigrants become self-sufficent.
According to a new study, American immigrants still lag far behind natives, with 43 percent finding themselves dependent on public assistance even 20 years or more after their immigration. The center for Immigration Studies released these findings this week suggesting that immigrating to the US may not be the economic opportunity many immigrants feel it is.
Immigrants need more and different help to keep them from relying on public assistance later in life.
The report is an important note as both candidates propose reducing barriers to immigration.
Steven A. Camarota, the research center's director and lead author of the study said, "Look, we know a lot of these folks are going to be poor, we get it. But don't tell the public it's all going great, which is the story line I think a lot of people want to sell. There is progress over time. Every measure shows improvement over time, but still, the situation does not look like we'd like it to look, particularly for the less-educated. They lag well behind natives even when they've been here for two decades, and that is very disconcerting."
Current law prohibits the issuance of visas to immigrants who can't show the ability to support themselves once they enter the country. The study suggests that standard isn't being met by a substantial number of immigrants.
The issue is of concern because thousands of immigrants enter the US each year with the intent to stay. However, if almost half of those new arrivals become dependent on public assistance, then it may be necessary to look at programs that will prevent these individuals and their families from falling into long-term poverty.
The study also showed substantial differences between immigrants from the UK versus Latin America. Those immigrating from the UK typically did much better. This can likely be ascribed to language. Native English speakers tend to do better faster, while English learners can take several years to learn the language.
In addition to language, education is also a significant factor. Immigrants from Latin America tend to have less access to higher education which acts as a barrier to self-sufficiency.
Obviously, what are needed are programs that provide education and training to immigrants so they can provide for themselves as opposed to relying on public assistance.
Unfortunately, children of immigrants born in the US also tend to lag behind their native-born peers, underscoring the importance and need for change.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Immigration, welfare, public assistance
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