Conservative (and some libertarian) opponents of increased immigration often argue that allowing in more immigrants is likely to lead to increases in the size of the welfare state. In this recent article, economist Zachary Gochenour and immigration policy analyst Alex Nowrasteh present some powerful evidence refuting such claims:
Republicans are worried about Speaker John Boehner’s immigration reform principles — chief among them that immigration reform will create a new Democratic majority. However, worries that new immigrants will increase the size of our bloated welfare state and further decrease America’s economic freedom shouldn’t be among them.
In a new paper from the Cato Institute, we show that, historically, immigrants and their descendants have not increased the size of individual welfare benefits or welfare budgets and are unlikely to do so going forward. The amount of welfare benefits is unaffected by the foreign origin or diversity of the population.
Since 1970, no pattern can be seen between the size of benefits a family of three gets under welfare programs like Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) and the level of immigration or ethnic and racial diversity…
Some conservatives cite states like California as an example of a large welfare state fueled by increasing diversity led by an immigrant tidal wave. But again, for every increasingly diverse California or New York with an expanding welfare state, there is an increasingly diverse Texas or a Florida moderating welfare benefits.
The lesson is simple for Republicans — look at how states like Texas and Florida handle immigration and welfare, much as they would tax or other economic policies….
But could these new immigrant voters and their descendants help raise taxes and increase other regulations, thereby decreasing economic freedom?
There is no relationship between the relative size of the immigrant population, diversity and the amount of economic freedom in the United States. The percent of the national population that is immigrant, Hispanic, Asian or any combination is also not associated with more or fewer burdensome government regulations and higher or lower tax rates.