Setting the Record Straight: What are the Costs to the Public? 
            Public Welfare 52, 2 (Spring, 1994),6

               Michael Fix and Jeffrey Passel
Few areas of public policy provoke such charged, emotional responses as welfare and, of late, immigration. Not surprisingly, therefore, when the two are joined, public debate is dominated by many misunderstandings. In this article, we note some of the analytic and conceptual errors in the public discourse on immigrants and welfare, critique recent public-sector impact studies, and discuss several issues raised by current reform proposals. We urge Congress to look not just to the costs of immigrants, but also to the high-leverage investments that might be made to expedite immigrants' social and economic integration.

We begin by summarizing several major themes that are central to the debate:

New Realities

The tenor of the public debate on immigration in the United States has changed in recent years. There are many explanations for this shift, but several may be especially pertinent to public deliberations. The first is simple numbers. During the 1980s and 1990s, immigration rose to its highest level in the history of the nation. Steady increases in immigration, coming about as a result of a quarter-century of reform, have led to a near tripling of immigration levels since the 1960s.

Today, roughly 675,000 immigrants enter each year as legal permanent residents, principally for family unification or for employment-related purposes; another 120,000 are admitted as refugees fleeing political persecution. And an estimated 300,000 undocumented immigrants enter and stay each year.(2)

This new immigration is characterized by several important trends that are relevant to the welfare issues we discuss in this article. As in the past, immigrants continue to be concentrated in six states, most notably California. Their concentration in California appears to have grown over the decade.

Another defining characteristic of the new immigration has been the pace of change that it generates; roughly half of the nation's immigrant population entered within the past decade alone.(3) Table 1, on the next page, indicates the rapid rate of growth of the immigrant populations in 9 of 10 major U.S. metropolitan areas--growth that inevitably gives rise to adjustment issues.

One abiding fiscal reality that explains, in part, the emergence and character of the current immigration debate is that the distribution of federal revenues to state and local governments is perceived as not adequately accounting for the effects of increasing immigration. While most of the taxes paid by immigrants go to federal coffers, the costs of providing social services fall to state and local governments. Although the distribution of taxes paid by natives is not substantially different, the federal government is perceived as responsible for the increased number of immigrants.

Finally, immigration and its costs are at issue in part because of strong evidence that U.S. efforts to control undocumented immigration have failed. In particular, the introduction of employer sanctions has not substantially reduced the flow of illegal immigrants to the United States. This attention to the undocumented and to the costs associated with them has eroded the legitimacy of legal and humanitarian immigration policies.

Eligibility for Public Assistance

These new realities have led to a reexamination of fiscal impacts of immigrants and, specifically, the degree to which they use and pay for the services and benefits they receive. A number of important misconceptions about immigrants and their impacts on the public sector have emerged.

One of the myths underlying current immigration debates is that immigrants are heavy users of welfare and that both legal and illegal immigrants are drawn to this country by the lure of the "welfare magnet." The truth is that many immigrants, including most recent arrivals, are restricted from receiving most forms of welfare or public assistance. Immigrant eligibility for services and benefits is more limited than is broadly believed:

The only major immigrant population eligible to participate broadly in the nation's welfare program from date of entry is refugees. Because they are fleeing persecution, their departures are unplanned, and they often arrive traumatized by war, there is a strong practical and ethical case for providing them support upon arrival. Refugees, however, represent only about 10 percent of new immigrants entering each year.(5)

To help enforce the restrictions on welfare use, IRCA mandated that the states adopt an automated verification system--Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE)--to screen the immigration status of noncitizen applicants for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and other federal benefit programs.

Welfare use in the overall foreign-born population is slightly higher than in the native population; but when we hold constant social and economic characteristics, immigrant households are no more likely to receive public assistance than native households. Overall, 4.2 percent of natives report receiving welfare, versus 4.7 percent of immigrants.(6) Among non-refugee immigrants of working age, however, welfare use falls well below that of natives--2.7 percent versus 3.7 percent.(7)

Welfare receipt among immigrants is unequally distributed among immigrant groups, however. As Figure 3 illustrates, refugees are much more likely than natives to receive welfare--15.6 percent compared with 4.2 per-cent-and are explicitly entitled to such benefits.

Elderly immigrants who arrived in the past decade also report high rates of welfare receipt: 25.7 percent for those over age 65 arriving in the 1980s versus 6.9 percent for elderly natives. When these immigrants arrived in the United States, they were already too old to build up a long enough work history to make them eligible for Social Security benefits. Elderly immigrants who have lived in the United States for at least 20 years are only slightly more likely to receive welfare than natives--8.7 percent versus 6.9 percent.(8)

Table 2. Welfare Receipt in 1989 for Natives and Foreign Born        
                   Population      Number      Percent      annual   
                     age 15       receiving   receiving     welfare  
Population          or older       welfare     welfare      income   
Native            176,529,000     7,476,000      4.2         $3,535  
Foreign born       18,228,000       862,000      4.7         $4,485  
Entered 1980-1990   7,301,000       326,000      4.5         $4,975  
From refugee                                                         
countries(*)          949,000       148,000     15.6         $5,704  
All others          6,352,000       178,000      2.8         $4,368  
Entered 1970-1979   4,708,000       220,000      4.7         $4,439  
Entered before 1970 6,220,000       315,000      5.1         $4,010  
Total             248,124,000     8,338,000      4.3         $3,634  
Source: Tabulations from 1990 census, 1% Public Use Microdata Sample 
* These include all foreign-born persons from countries where refugees    
represent a large proportion of the immigrant flow during the 1980s. These
countries include Afghanistan, Albania, Cambodia, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iraq,   
Laos, Poland, Romania, the Soviet Union, and Vietnam.                      

Except for refugees and elderly immigrants, immigrants are considerably less likely than natives to receive welfare. Among nonrefugees who came in the 1980s, only 2 percent of working-age immigrants report welfare income, versus 3.7 percent for working-age natives. Among longer-term immigrants of working age, 3.2 percent are on welfare--a proportion that is still below the level of natives.(9)

Newly available data show a significant recent increase in alien recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI)--from 380,000 in 1989 to 601,000 in 1992, about 11 percent of all SSI recipients.(10) These data reinforce the picture of SSI as a substitute for retirement benefits among elderly immigrants arriving within the past 10 years. Lawfully admitted aliens represent 25 percent of the aged SSI population, for example, but only 6 percent of nonelderly disabled recipients. In addition, 77 percent of elderly immigrant SSI recipients do not receive Social Security, versus only 34 percent of elderly native recipients. About one-third of alien recipients applied for benefits shortly after the expiration of the three- year deeming period. More than half of the alien SSI recipients waited more than five years after entering the United States to apply.(11)

Flawed Studies

Estimating the economic costs and benefits of immigrants--legal or illegal, recent or long-term--is extremely difficult. The data required to develop direct estimates for local areas, states, or the nation are generally unavailable. Consequently, researchers must fill in the gaps with assumptions. This exercise is not inherently biased, but most current studies use assumptions that maximize the apparent costs of immigrants. Alternative assumptions--often more plausible--produce very different results.

Because a relative few of these studies have basically defined recent public debate on this subject, we focus most of our discussion on these studies to highlight what can and cannot be responsibly said about the impact of immigrants on the public sector.

Earlier studies. A review, done through 1991, of all major studies calculating the impact of immigrants on the public sector found no consistent quantitative picture across all levels of government.(12) Nonetheless, some generalizations can be made. Most national studies, which take account of all levels of government, suggest that immigrants are not an overall fiscal burden on the native population. The picture is mixed at the state level, in part because of the differing responsibilities assumed by different state governments. At the local level, analyses completed in the 1970s and 1980s have invariably found immigrants to be a net fiscal burden; but they found the same for native populations.

Recent studies. Analyses by government agencies interested in "recovering" the costs of immigrants and by nonprofit groups committed to reducing levels of immigration have dominated recent literature on public- sector impacts. They uniformly find that immigrants impose fiscal burdens on governments and on native-born taxpayers. Our own review finds that, although some studies are better than others, all overstate the negative impacts of immigrants for one or more of the following reasons:

Of all the studies reviewed here, the Los Angeles County study, performed by the Los Angeles County Internal Services Division (ISD), is the most carefully conducted and uses the best demographic assumptions regarding, for example, the number of illegal immigrants. This study found that the groups that made up the study population--recent legal immigrants, aliens granted legal status under IRCA, and illegal immigrants and their citizen children--contributed $139 million in taxes to the county; but the county spent $947 million on services for the study population, which is $808 million more than this group paid in taxes.(13) The study also noted that only 3.2 percent of the taxes paid by this population went to the county, with the federal and state governments getting virtually the rest. Notwithstanding the care with which the overall ISD study was done, an evaluation by Rebecca L. Clark and Jeffrey S. Passel of the Urban Institute concludes that the study(14)

Table 3. Lawfully Admitted Alien SSI Recipients by Length of Time Between 
of U.S. Residency and Date of SSI Application: December 1992         
                            Number of         Percent                
Duration of interval       recipients         of total               
Total                       455,650             100.0                
Less than 3 years            63,250              13.9                
3 to 5 years                146,370              32.1                
5 to 10 years               116,482              25.6                
10 years or more            126,100              27.7                
Unknown and other             3,450               0.8                
Source: SSI 10% sample, December 1992, from Charles Scott, SSI Payments to
Lawfully Resident Aliens (Baltimore: Office of Supplemental Security 

Two studies of San Diego County by Louis M. Rea and Richard A. Parker of the University of California at San Diego, conducted for the state auditor general and the state senate's Special Committee on Border Issues, employ methods and assumptions that overstate costs and underestimate revenues. For example, the studies assume that far more undocumented aliens reside in San Diego County--over 200,000--than can be supported by data.(16)

By the authors' own reasoning, this would imply that over 4 million undocumented immigrants live in California and more than 8 million live throughout the United States. The Immigration and Naturalization Service estimates the nation's undocumented population at somewhat over 3 million. In addition, the studies' revenue estimates omit several taxes, notably property taxes; underestimate other revenues; and base most estimates on small, nonrepresentative samples.

Cost Estimate Errors

The Carrying Capacity Network, a Washington, D.C.-based organization advocating substantial reductions in U.S. immigration, sponsored a 1993 study by Donald Huddle, professor emeritus of economics at Rice University, entitled "The Costs of Immigration," which has received considerable attention from the media and politicians but has not yet been subjected to thorough research scrutiny.

In 1992, according to Huddle's estimates, immigrants cost all levels of government a total of $42.5 billion.(17) Huddle derived this figure by adjusting revenue estimates for Los Angeles County immigrants from the 1992 ISD study to the national level and subtracting immigrant costs estimated from public program participation and per capita cost estimates. The Huddle study is unique in that it also includes, as a major cost, displacement of natives from their jobs by immigrants. This set of estimation procedures includes a variety of fundamental errors. When these errors are corrected, the post-1970 immigrants in Huddle's study actually show a significant surplus of revenues over social-service costs.(18)

Three serious errors affect Huddle's revenue estimates as well. First, he relies on the ISD study's income estimates for legal immigrants in Los Angeles County. The ISD estimates are for Los Angeles's legal immigrants who entered during the 1980s, but Huddle uses them to represent all legal immigrants who entered the United States from 1970 to 1992. The incomes of these groups, in fact, differ substantially. The assumptions underlying the ISD figures used by Huddle yield an average income estimate for legal immigrants who entered Los Angeles County between 1980 and 1990 of about $9,700, which Huddle adjusts downward for his national revenue estimates. Our own analysis, based on 1990 census data, shows that legal immigrants who entered the United States between 1970 and 1990 have average incomes of over $14,000.

Underestimating incomes leads inevitably to an understatement of the rates at which immigrants are taxed. In addition to undercounting taxes paid, the study omits several significant revenue sources that are included in the Los Angeles County study--notably payments under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), unemployment insurance, and gasoline taxes. These taxes all have large impacts on people in the low- and middle-income brackets, including most immigrants.

This combination of errors leads Huddle to estimate that post-1970 immigrants--legal, illegal, and those granted amnesty--paid $20.2 billion in taxes. According to our calculations, this estimate is at least $50 billion too low. In accounting for the shortfall, we find that

Even this corrected estimate accounts for only a little over 80 percent of all taxes collected by all levels of government because it omits corporate income taxes, local income taxes, commercial property taxes, utility taxes, and numerous others.

Since Huddle estimates a "net cost" for immigrants in 1992 of $42.5 billion, his underestimation of revenue by $50 billion more than offsets his entire net cost estimate. Within the context of his own methods, in other words, immigrants show a net surplus.

Huddle also overstates the costs of immigrants, but not to the same degree as he understates revenues. The major sources of cost overstatement are

Huddle understates one area of immigration-related costs by omitting Social Security payments to immigrants who entered the United States after 1970. These amount to approximately $1.5 billion. Overall, therefore, Huddle overstates the costs of immigrants by about $9 billion.

In sharp contrast to the range of research on the impact of immigrants on U.S. jobs, as reviewed above, Huddle's estimate of immigrant costs includes $12 billion for social services to natives who have permanently lost their jobs to immigrants. This result is based on Huddle's own small-scale, limited studies in Houston, and, his own interpretation of the work of Joseph G. Altonji and David Card, economics professors at Northwestern and Princeton Universities, respectively-- although their results are not, in fact, consistent with what Huddle claims.(19) The combined effects of immigrants' job creation, entrepreneurship, and consumer spending are more than enough to offset the $12 billion in displacement effects that Huddle estimates.

Overall, in fact, immigrants generate a significant governmental surplus. With revenues from immigrants' taxes exceeding Huddle's estimate by $50 billion, their costs falling short of Huddle's estimate by $9 billion, and positive economic impacts offsetting his displacement estimate of $12 billion, immigrants generate a surplus of approximately $25 billion to $30 billion.

Immigrants and Welfare Reform

Partially in reaction to studies such as those discussed above, a number of proposals have recently been advanced to reduce welfare usage among immigrants. Some of the most prominent of these proposals include

As we understand them, these proposals are intended to achieve two related but rather different purposes: to reduce illegal immigration to the United States by eliminating the supposed welfare lure and to conserve resources so that they can be spent on native populations.

Efforts to curb undocumented immigration by restricting access to public benefit programs are problematic for several reasons. First, there is little evidence that undocumented immigrants come to the United States to use public benefits. The fact that benefits are not a major motivating force behind illegal immigration was strongly supported by evidence collected in a survey of the legalizing population in the late 1980s, conducted by the WESTAT research firm, which found very low self-reported welfare use among the legalizing population.

Second, since the undocumented are barred from most programs to begin with, the opportunities for cost savings are limited. If the undocumented are using public welfare services, we do not need new laws--only enforcement of existing laws.

In this regard, the implementation of the SAVE system to verify the immigration status of immigrants applying for welfare does not appear to have had much, if any, impact on levels of undocumented immigration. Moreover, the occasions when the system has caught undocumented applicants for benefits have been so few that Texas sought a waiver for its use within its Food Stamp Program.

Further, where public benefits have been extended to the undocumented in the past, such as emergency medical care under Medicaid or nutritional services under WIC, the decision has been based on a public-interest calculation that it would be cheaper to make the services available than to withhold them.

In a similar vein, the Supreme Court's rationale in the landmark case of Plyler v Doe would still pertain today to proposals to bar the children of undocumented immigrants from attending school or receiving AFDC payments. That is, the result would punish innocents for the transgressions of their parents and may end up costing more than it would save.(20)

Finally, efforts to use the public welfare system to deter illegal immigration would mean that bureaucrats, doctors, and other public employees must be enlisted as what amounts to "junior immigration inspectors." In the absence of reliable ways to distinguish between clients who are and are not undocumented, the potential for discrimination has to be taken into account. This is one important lesson we have learned from the introduction of employer sanctions in the labor area.

Both Republicans and Democrats have proposed welfare reform plans that include provisions to bar most legally resident aliens from receiving welfare. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released draft estimates of the cost savings that might be achieved by implementing the Republican welfare reform plan. That plan would, among other things, deny most public benefits to most permanent resident aliens, parolees, asylees, and other permanent residents under color of law. The plan would limit refugees' period of eligibility to no more than six years following their adjustment to permanent resident alien status. It would, however, continue to make benefits available to legal immigrants over age 75.

According to 1990 census data, natives receive 87.2 percent of all welfare income, with immigrants accounting TABULAR DATA OMITTED for the remaining 12.8 percent--or $3.9 billion. Only about half of this--$1.9 billion, or 6.2 percent of total payments--goes to the group that would be denied benefits. The remaining $2 billion in benefits to immigrants is split among naturalized citizens, recent refugees, and immigrants aged 75 and over.

CBO's projected savings for the Republican welfare reform plan over five years would be

SSI         $  9.4 billion                                           
Medicaid       8.1 billion                                           
Food Stamps    2.8 billion                                           
AFDC           1.0 billion                                           
Total       $ 21.3 billion                                           

CBO's cost estimates are generally respected; and these have been derived from administrative records, which reinforces their validity. We have not analyzed the reliability of these estimates ourselves; but two conceptual issues, unaddressed by CBO's analysts, could mean that the net cost savings are overestimated. First, denying legally admitted immigrants public assistance may shift costs to state and local governments. This effect is likely to be felt particularly in the SSI program. Because it is largely federally funded, eligibility restrictions will generate little in the way of state or local savings.

Second, most of the cost savings of such a bar--almost $1.6 billion in 1990, or 85 percent of the payments to the group that would be denied benefits--would come from immigrants who have been in the country for more than five years. Virtually all of these are also eligible to naturalize and thus regain their eligibility to receive welfare. A ban on welfare receipt would give them a great incentive to exercise their citizenship rights. It would also likely increase the number of child-only AFDC cases, as citizen children of legal immigrants are enrolled after their legal parents have been declared ineligible.

Another, somewhat more speculative, conceptual issue is raised by the cost estimates for barring most non-citizens from Medicaid. Each of these legally authorized resident alien populations is currently covered under the Clinton Administration's health reform plan. If the Clinton health plan passes, the projected savings in Medicaid spending on immigrants under welfare reform might be offset by federal subsidies to provide health care coverage to low-income, legal, noncitizen immigrants and their employers under health care reform.

Two estimates of the costs of providing AFDC to the American-born children of illegal immigrants have recently been released. The General Accounting Office (GAO) reported that the total annual federal, state, and local costs of providing AFDC to these citizen children was $479 million, about 2 percent of total AFDC benefit costs. At the same time, California has reported that the costs of providing AFDC in fiscal year 1993 to the citizen children of illegal immigrants was $472 million in California alone. Obviously, GAO's estimate for California is substantially lower.

Constraining access to welfare as a strategy to conserve limited public resources also raises design considerations that policymakers should take into account.

First, 1990 census data suggest that when those from refugee-sending countries are excluded from the immigrant group receiving public assistance, the welfare use rate for immigrants who arrived during the 1980s falls to 2 percent. This limits the cost savings available. The potential for cost savings is also reduced because refugees' average annual welfare benefits are 35 percent higher than those of nonrefugee immigrants--$5,704 versus $4,232.

Second, the nonrefugee immigrant population receiving public assistance appears to comprise the most vulnerable members of society, whose equitable claims to public assistance may be quite strong. For example, the share of aliens receiving SSI who are over 65 is double the share of all SSI recipients--69.8 percent versus 37.9 percent.(21)

Finally, cutting off legal immigrants from federal public benefits may simply shift new costs to state and local governments and to the fiscally strapped private service providers that serve immigrants. Each of these institutions is already reeling from the termination of the State Legalization Impact Assistance Grant Program and cuts in the Refugee Resettlement Program. A recent national survey of state and local officials, conducted by the Urban Institute in conjunction with the State and Local Coalition on Immigration, found that cuts in federal refugee expenditures led to such effects as increased use of local emergency services by refugees and increased pressure on teens to drop out of school and go to work.(22)

Implications for Immigration Policy

We have seen that immigration to the United States has risen steadily over the past 25 years, that immigrants were highly concentrated in a number of states and cities, and that the pace of population change had been rapid.

A number of other characteristics of the immigrant population are also important to note. Comparisons of 1980 and 1990 census data shows us that whereas the education levels of immigrants actually rose during the 1980s, roughly one-quarter of newcomers still enter with less than a ninth-rade education. These immigrants with low education levels are disproportionately concentrated among undocumented entrants and refugees.

Moreover, our own research of the 1970, 1980, and 1990 censuses has revealed that the share of immigrants living in concentrated poverty areas has grown roughly twice as fast as the native population in concentrated poverty over the past 20 years. Concentrated poverty has been taken as a measure of severe need in poverty literature. Further, as suggested by the results of the work of Frank Bean, professor of sociology at the University of Texas, census data reveal that welfare use rises over time for legal immigrants from non-refugee-sending countries.(23)

These trends indicate that it may be a mistake to think of these immigrants--the majority of whom are here with our consent--simply in terms of costs and the savings that would result from barring them from public benefits. Rather, we may need to think in terms of the investments that would accelerate their economic and social integration; keep them off welfare in the long run; and, to put it bluntly, avert the formation of a new urban underclass.

This view suggests that excluding immigrants from job training programs--especially those that might teach English language skills-may prove an unrewarding path to follow. We believe that public policy should be moving in the direction of making such services more accessible, not less.

1. This estimate is based on calculations by the Urban Institute and data contained in U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), INS Statistical Yearbook: 1992 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1993).

2. INS Statistical Yearbook: 1992 and Robert Warren, Estimates of the Resident Alien Population: October 1992 (Washington, D.C.: INS, 1993).

3. Based on tabulations from 1-percent samples of the 1980 and 1990 censuses.

4. Those who legalized under IRCA who had been in the country for at least five years were barred from most federally funded public assistance programs, including Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), Medicaid, and food stamps, for a period of five years. Those who legalized under the Special Agricultural Worker Program are subject to the same restrictions but are eligible to receive food stamps. Beneficiaries with temporary protected status are not considered "permanently residing under color of law" and are hence barred from most federal benefit programs, such as AFDC and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

5. INS Statistical Yearbook: 1992 and Estimates of the Resident Alien Population.

6. Data are from the 1990 census, where "welfare income" is defined as SSI, AFDC, or other public assistance or public welfare payments. Percentages apply only to the population aged 15 and over, the only ones who can report welfare income in the census.

7. Not all of the percentages in this paragraph are represented in Figure 3. The 2.7 percent reflects the number of nonrefugee immigrants of working age entering the United States in all years. In Figure 3, the 2 percent represents nonrefugee immigrants of working age who entered after 1980. The 3.2 percent in Figure 3 represents those immigrants of working age who entered before 1980.

8. See note 6. In the percentages discussed at this point in the article, 8.7 percent represents elderly immigrants who entered the United States before 1970. This does not appear in Figure 3.

9. Ibid.

10. In this sentence, 601,000 is the number of immigrant SSI recipients, including both legal permanent residents and those defined as permanent residents under color of law (PRUCOL). In Table 3, the number 455,650 represents only legal residents, not PRUCOL.

11. The data in this paragraph are from Charles Scott, SSI Payments to Lawfully Resident Aliens (Baltimore: Office of Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Administration, 1993).

12. Eric S. Rothman and Thomas J. Espenshade, "Fiscal Impacts of Immigration to the United States," Population Index 58 (Fall 1992): 381- 415.

13. Los Angeles County Internal Services Division (ISD), Impact of Undocumented Persons and Other Immigrants on Costs, Revenues, and Services in Los Angeles County: A Report Prepared for Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (Los Angeles: ISD, 1992).

14. Rebecca L. Clark and Jeffrey S. Passel, How Much Do Immigrants Pay in Taxes? Evidence from Los Angeles County, Policy Discussion Paper PRIP-UI-26 (Washington, D.C.: Program for Research on Immigration Policy, the Urban Institute, 1993).

15. The accounting technique employed by ISD generates a large fiscal deficit for both immigrants and natives. This anomalous result occurs because close to 20 percent of the county's revenues were omitted from the study.

16. Louis M. Rea and Richard A. Parker, A Fiscal Impact Analysis of Undocumented Immigrants Residing in San Diego County: Costs and Revenues of Significant State and Local Government Programs, report by the Office of the Auditor General (San Diego: Rea & Parker, Inc., 1992); Louis M. Rea and Richard A. Parker, Illegal Immigration in San Diego County: An Analysis of Costs and Revenues, report to the California State Senate Special Committee on Border Issues (San Diego: Rea & Parker, Inc., 1993).

17. Donald Huddle, The Costs of Immigration (Washington, D.C.: Carrying Capacity Network, 1993).

18. Jeffrey S. Passel, Immigrants and Taxes: A Reappraisal of Huddle's "The Cost of Immigrants" (Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute, 1993).

19. Joseph G. Altonji and David Card. "The Effects of Immigration on the Labor Market Outcomes of Less-Skilled Natives," in Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market, eds. John M. Abowd and Richard B. Freeman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991).

20. Plyler v Doe, 457 US 202 (1982).

21. Scott, SSI Payments.

22. The State and Local Coalition on Immigration includes the American Public Welfare Association, the National Governors' Association, the National Conference of State Legislators, the National Association of Counties, and the National Conference of Mayors.

23. Frank D. Bean et al., Welfare Participation Among Immigrants: Implications for U.S. Immigration Policy (Washington, D.C.: Immigrant Policy Program, the Urban Institute, 1994).

Michael E. Fix is the director of the Immigrant Policy Program, the Urban Institute, Washington, D.C.

Jeffrey S. Passel is the director of the institute's Program for Research on Immigration Policy.

         Immigration and Immigrants:  Setting the Record Straight

	            Michael Fix and Jeffrey Passel
		           Urban Institute

                          Table of Contents


   What is the Policy Context?
   Who Are America's Immigrants and Where Do They Live?
   What Impact Does Immigration Have on the U.S. Labor Market?
   What Impact Does Immigration Have on the Public Sector?


   Immigration Policy:  Historical Overview
   Making Sense of Immigration Policy
   The Goals of Immigration Policy
   Legal Immigration
   Humanitarian Admissions
   Controlling Illegal Immigration
   Immigrant Policy


   Historical Immigration Patterns
   Immigrant Numbers and Legal Status
     Absolute Numbers
     Annual Flow
     Illegal Immigration Trends
   Countries of Origin of U.S. Immigrants
     Changing Countries of Origin
     Increasing Diversity
     More Recent Immigrants
   Current Impacts of Immigration
     Racial and Ethnic Composition
     Where Do Immigrants Settle?
     Social and Ecnomic Integration
     Economic Perfermance
   Projections of Future Immigrant Imapcts
     Population Size and Generational Composition
     Racial and Ethnic Composition---Static Approach
     Racial and Ethnic Composition---Impact of Intermarriage
     Children of Immigrants
     Labor Force Projections


   Overall Picture:  Limited Impact
   Strength of the Evidence
   National Labor Market Impacts
   Do Immigrants Displace Native Workers?
   Do Immigrants Depress the Wages of Natives?
   What Impact Do Immigrants Have on Opportunties
      for Less-Skilled Workers?
   Do Immigrants Affect the Wages and Employment of
   What Are the Impacts of Immigration on the Labor
      Market Opportunities of Immigrants?
   What Imapct Do Undocumented Immigrants Have on
      Natives' Labor Market Opportunities?
   Industry-Specific Impacts
      Explanations for the Findings
   Contributions of Immigrants to the National Economy


   Public Misperceptions
   Immigrant Welfare Costs and Other Public Sector Impacts
   Los Angeles County---Fiscal Impacts
   San Diego County---Fiscal Impacts
   United States---Fiscal Impacts
      Revenue Estimation Errors
      Cost Estimation Errors
      Indirect Impacts of Immigration
   Immigrant Eligibility for Public Assistance Benefits
   Immigrant Use of Welfare
   Cost-Saving Impacts of Welfare Reform


   Illegal Immigration
   Social and Economic Concerns
      Fiscal Impact
   Linking Immigration Trends to Economic Performance
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