Society

Poll: Voters Back Keeping Immigrants Off Welfare

| by Jordan Smith
President Donald TrumpPresident Donald Trump

American voters don't think immigrants should be able to claim welfare within their first five years in the country, according to a new poll.

Rasmussen Reports carried out the survey from June 22 to 25 and found that 62 percent were in favor of denying access to welfare for newcomers for five years.

The poll was taken after President Donald Trump raised the issue at a rally in Iowa earlier in June.

"We want to get our people off of welfare and back to work. We also want to preserve our safety net for struggling Americans who truly need help," Trump said at the rally June 21, according to PolitiFact. "That's why I believe the time has come for new immigration rules which say that those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years."

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The poll found 26 percent opposed bans on welfare for immigrants while 12 percent were unsure.

Reports subsequently pointed out that a law has been in force since 1996 preventing new immigrants from accessing welfare during their first five years in the U.S.

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act stipulated that "means-tested" federal benefits could not be claimed. The act did allow for some exceptions, including refugees and those granted asylum, military veterans and active military personnel, including their spouses and unmarried dependent children.

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Some states provide benefits for immigrants who are not eligible for federal assistance because of the five-year rule.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on June 23 that the president was aware of the 1996 law's existence.

"But that law, while on the books, has not been enforced and clearly either needs to be reexamined, enforced or new legislation needs to be introduced," Spicer said.

In Trump's 2018 budget proposal, it was noted that the National Academy of Sciences found in 2013 that first generation immigrants cost all levels of government $279 billion more than the taxes they pay.

But the National Academy released a statement challenging this interpretation.

"The report found that the long-term impact of immigration on the wages and employment of native-born workers overall is very small, and that any negative impacts are most likely to be found for prior immigrants or native-born high school dropouts," the statement said. "First-generation immigrants are more costly to government than are the native-born, but the second generation are among the strongest fiscal and economic contributors in the U.S. The report concludes that immigration has a positive impact on long-run economic growth in the U.S."

Sources: Rasmussen Reports, PolitiFact / Photo credit: Joyce M. Boghosian/Wikimedia Commons, Joyce M. Boghosian/The White House/Wikimedia Commons, Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Is new legislation required?
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