A big part of public policy debates involves countering misleading claims. In this regular feature, I highlight important facts about the key issues being debated around Washington, D.C.
Claim: Immigrants are a drain on the U.S. economy.
What you need to know: The Center for Immigration Studies published a misleading report saying that half of immigrant households are on welfare.
The Cato Institute’s Alex Nowrasteh explains that this finding is inaccurate because it counts households and not individuals. “We should expect higher welfare use in immigrant households just because they’re larger,” he says. A better apples-to-apples measurement would be to compare welfare use of poor immigrants with poor U.S.-born individuals. Cato’s research finds that “poor immigrants are less likely to use welfare than poor natives.”
It is also important to note how we benefit from immigrants. According to Kauffman Foundation research, immigrants are almost twice as likely to start businesses than native-born Americans. The Partnership for a New American Economy found that 40% of the 2010 Fortune 500 companies were founded by either immigrants or children of immigrants. These businesses employ millions of people.