Impact of Illegal Aliens on Public Assistance Programs:

Too Little Is Known

GGD-78-20: Published: Dec 1, 1977. Publicly Released: Dec 1, 1977.

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Existing information is inadequate to reasonably estimate the extent or cost of illegal aliens receiving public assistance under Federal, State, and local government programs. Whether the payments illegal aliens contribute to the welfare system by paying taxes are sufficient to offset the benefits received is also unknown. However, public assistance programs do not appear to provide significant incentives for aliens to enter and remain in the United States illegally. The impact of illegal aliens on the following public assistance programs was investigated: Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid/Medicare, food stamps, unemployment insurance, and public education and housing.

Medical assistance, unemployment insurance, and public education may be the programs most used by illegal aliens. Public assistance used by illegal aliens may place a greater financial burden on State and local governments than on the Federal Government. Access to public assistance programs by illegal aliens can be obtained through use of illicit documents, absence of statutory or regulatory denial, administrative error, or court order. The indirect burden placed on public assistance programs by illegal aliens (such as displacing citizens in jobs, causing them to seek public assistance, and aid to U.S. citizen children of illegal aliens) may be greater than that caused by direct participation in the programs. Although the data suggest that the total dollars illegal aliens send to their home countries is significant, only a minor part appears to come from public assistance dollars.

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