Clear all

13 results found

reorder grid_view

The Fiscal Impact of Immigration in the United States

March 21, 2023

This paper presents two analyses: a measure of the historical fiscal impacts of immigrants from 1994 to 2018 and the projected long‐term fiscal impact of an additional immigrant and that immigrant's descendants. An individual's fiscal impact refers to the difference between the taxes that person paid and the benefits that person received over a given period. We use and compare two models for these analyses: the first follows the National Academy of Science's methodology as closely as possible and updates the data for more recent years (hereafter referred to as the Updated Model), and the second makes several methodological changes that we believe improve the accuracy of the final results (hereafter referred to as the Cato Model). The most substantial changes made in the Cato Model include correcting for a downward bias in the estimation of immigrants' future fiscal contributions identified by Michael Clemens in 2021, allocating the fiscal impact of U.S.-born dependents of immigrants to the second generation group, and using a predictive regression to assign future education levels to individuals who are too young to have completed their education. Immigrants have a more positive net fiscal impact than that of native‐born Americans in most scenarios in the Updated Model and in every scenario in the Cato Model, depending on how the costs of public goods are allocated.

Immigrant and Native Consumption of Means‐Tested Welfare and Entitlement Benefits in 2020

January 31, 2023

This brief updates previous Cato policy briefs on immigrant welfare consumption to supply more up‐to‐date information to policymakers and the public. Based on data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, we find that immigrants consumed 27 percent less welfare and entitlement benefits than native‐born Americans on a per capita basis in 2020. Immigrants were 14.6 percent of the U.S. population and consumed just 11.1 percent of all means‐tested welfare and entitlement benefits in 2020. By comparison, immigrants consumed 21 percent less welfare and entitlement benefits in 2016 and 28 percent less in 2019. From 2016 to 2020, the underconsumption of welfare by immigrants relative to native‐born Americans widened by about 6 percentage points. From 2019 to 2020, the gap shrank only slightly, by 0.6 percentage points.

Immigrant and Native Consumption of Means-Tested Welfare and Entitlement Benefits in 2019

March 30, 2022

Total government spending on the welfare state amounted to about $2.5 trillion in 2019. The federal government spent roughly $2.3 trillion in that year, an amount equal to approximately 51 percent of all federal outlays. About $1.7 trillion of federal expenditures went to Social Security and Medicare, and the other roughly $534 billion funded means‐tested welfare benefits. American states spent an additional $244 billion on means‐tested welfare programs in 2019. Based on data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, we find that immigrants consume 28 percent less welfare and entitlement benefits than native‐born Americans on a per capita basis. By comparison, immigrants consumed 21 percent less welfare and entitlement benefits in 2016 on a per capita basis. From 2016 to 2019, the underconsumption of welfare by immigrants relative to native‐born Americans widened by about 7 percentage points.

The Most Common Arguments Against Immigration and Why They’re Wrong

September 27, 2021

From "immigrants are going to take American jobs" to "they're going to commit crimes" or "they won't learn English," we've heard it all. This report by the CATO Institute's Alex Nowrasteh contains the 15 most common arguments against immigration and Nowrasteh's responses to them. From economics to crime, terrorism, cultural assimilation, and the voting habits of immigrants, he considers the most common arguments against immigration and rejects them using sound reasoning and evidence.

A Brief History of U.S. Immigration Policy from the Colonial Period to the Present Day

August 3, 2021

More than 86 million people have legally immigrated to the United States between 1783 and 2019. The legal regime under which they immigrated has changed radically over that time; the politics surrounding those changes have remained contentious, and past immigration policies inform the current political debate. Conflicting visions and piecemeal legislation have left the United States with an archaic and barely coherent immigration system with outdated policy objectives that is primarily controlled by the executive branch of government. We review the history of U.S. immigration policy, including the legal controversies that empowered Congress with its immigration plenary power and the historical policy decisions that still guide the U.S. immigration system, in order to contextualize the current political debate over immigration at the beginning of the Biden administration.

Incarcerated Immigrants in 2016: Their Numbers, Demographics, and Countries of Origin

June 4, 2018

This brief uses American Community Survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau to analyze incarcerated immigrants according to their citizenship and legal status for 2016. The data show that all immigrants—legal and illegal—are less likely to be incarcerated than native-born Americans relative to their shares of the population.

Immigration and the Welfare State: Immigrant and Native Use Rates and Benefit Levels for Means-Tested Welfare and Entitlement Programs

May 10, 2018

Overall, immigrants are less likely to consume welfare benefits and, when they do, they generally consume a lower dollar value of benefits than native-born Americans. This appears contrary to the study conducted by the CIS (Publication 3), but Cato claims its work is more accurate because it examines individuals with immigration status, while CIS measures welfare use by households headed by immigrants (which often contain multiple native-born Americans).

Do Immigration Enforcement Programs Reduce Crime? Evidence from the 287(g) Program in North Carolina

April 11, 2018

This paper examines 287(g)'s implementation across multiple counties in North Carolina and identifies its impact on local crime rates and police clearance rates by exploiting time variation in regional immigration enforcement trends. The 287(g) program did not affect the crime rate in North Carolina or police clearance rates but it did boost the number of assaults against police officers.

Criminal Immigrants in Texas: Illegal Immigrant Conviction and Arrest Rates for Homicide, Sexual Assault, Larceny, and Other Crimes

February 26, 2018

This brief uses Texas Department of Public Safety data to measure the conviction and arrest rates of illegal immigrants by crime. In Texas in 2015, the criminal conviction and arrest rates for immigrants were well below those of native-born Americans. Moreover, the conviction and arrest rates for illegal immigrants were lower than those for native-born Americans. This result holds for most crimes.

Immigrants Assimilate into the Political Mainstream

January 19, 2017

This report separates immigrant political and policy opinions by citizenship status. Noncitizen immigrants cannot vote but their political opinions are mostly similar to those of natives. However, naturalized citizen-immigrants who can vote have political opinions even closer to those of natives and are near-fully assimilated into the political mainstream.

Terrorism and Immigration: A Risk Analysis

September 13, 2016

This report attempts to analyze the likelihood of an American perishing in a terrorist attack on U.S. soil committed by a variety of foreign-born classifications (tourist, refugee, illegal immigrant, etc.).

Does Immigration Impact Institutions?

May 6, 2014

This paper empirically examines how immigration impacts a nation's policies and institutions and finds no evidence of negative and some evidence of positive impacts in institutional quality as a result of immigration.