The Wall Street Journal takes a look at whether it's true that low-skilled immigrant households are quick to go on the dole and suck money out of U.S. taxpayers.
The answer - they don't. It's a fact-based column. Immigration and Welfare OpinionJournal - Featured Article
... most immigrants contribute payroll taxes for decades before they collect Social Security or Medicare benefits. The Social Security actuaries recently calculated that over the next 75 years immigrant workers will pay some $5 trillion more in payroll taxes than they will receive in Social Security benefits. These surplus payments more than offset the costs of use of other welfare benefits received by most immigrant groups.
There's no doubt that immigrants draw on public resources, like the roads and the schools. The latter is mandated by a Supreme Court decision, Plyer v. Doe, and in any event would our society rather have these children in school, or wandering the streets? Even immigrants who don't own homes, and thus don't pay property taxes, finance public schools indirectly through rents paid to landlords. As for health care and roads, immigrants who receive paychecks have their income taxes withheld, and they also pay sales tax and other levies like everyone else.
Perhaps most important, immigrant earnings and tax payments rise the longer they are here. According to Census data for 2005, immigrants who have just arrived have median household earnings of $31,930, or about 30% below the U.S. average of $44,389. But those in the U.S. for an average of 10 years have earnings of $38,395; for those here at least 25 years, the figure is more than $50,000. Those earnings wouldn't be increasing if most immigrants were going on the dole. They are instead assimilating into the work force, growing their incomes as their skills increase.
As Congress debates immigration policy, the Members should keep in mind that the melting pot is still working; that taxes by immigrants cover their use of public services; and that finding a way to let immigrants work in the U.S. legally is the humane and pro-growth solution to the illegal immigration problem.