United States. Congress. House. Committee on the J.

Legal immigration reform proposals : hearing before the Subcommitee on Immigration and Claims of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, May 17, 1995 online

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Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Bryant.

Mr. Becerra.

Mr. Becerra. Mr. Chairman, and I will actually close. Just to
add to my colleague from Texas' comments, I was just trying to
find out what he meant by that. I agree with Mr. Bryant and also
with Mr. Brimelow that there are individuals who are able to lobby
much more effectively than others, and there's nothing wrong.
That's the American way of life. You come up here and you do the
best job you can to advocate for your cause. I was just wondering
if he was referring to a population group or if there were particular
organizations that were resulting in particular immigration policy
that we have.

The only question I would ask — and it's also something that per-
haps Mr. Brimelow could elaborate on in written testimony that he
can submit — is the information that he provides in his testimony
with regard to welfare use by immigrants. He cites a number that
I've never seen cited before, that 9 percent or so of legal immi-
grants are on welfare. I know that the Census Bureau estimates
that something about 3 percent — in fact, when you take out the ref-
ugee population, that there is less welfare use by legal immigrants
than there is by native-bom, by citizens, and I know that the
Urban Institute, a think tank that has done numerous studies on
immigration, is considered probably the premiere center for immi-
gration analysis, has said that, again, legal immigrants, when you
exclude refugees, use welfare at a much lower rate than citizen
populations. And, of course, I think it's pretty recognizable why the
refugee population uses welfare at a higher rate, because by the
mere definition of a refugee, that person comes across to this Na-
tion with little on his or her back, as a result of fleeing persecution
or fear of death.

And I don't know if Mr. Brimelow has a concise answer to that,
but maybe he can provide the information for his citation of these

Mr. Brimelow. The citation is George Borjas' article in the Jour-
nal of Economic Literature last fall, which reviewed all this evi-
dence and came up with these numbers. And the reason why the
Urban Institute differs from him is that they, basically, tried to
eliminate the immigration problem by eliminating problem immi-
grants. In other words, they removed national origin categories
from which refugees and illegals came. Now this is just meth-
odologically absurd because, for example, Mexicans are the largest
source of illegal immigrants, but they're also the largest source of
legal immigrants. So by removing them, you're really skewing the
proportion, the population that you have left.

If you keep amputating various parts of the problem community,
you, obviously, get down to a core which is fairly — is in good shape,
but, on the other hand, you could do that to the American native-
bom population, too. If you were to eliminate American blacks and
American Hispanics, and so on, you find out the whites are also in
most bloody shape economically. And so it becomes a game.


I think Borjas has been able to conclude — prove conclusively — I
think this is universally accepted — ^that there is a greater immi-
grant participation in the welfare program than there is for the na-

Mr. Becerra. I'm not sure I understand — understood the answer
very well there.

Mr. Smith. John, your time

Mr. Becerra. I understand that the U.S. census has dem-
onstrated that 3.8 percent of immigrants that arrived between
1980 and 1990, for example, use public assistance, and that the
rate for native or citizen population is 3.3 percent. Those are cen-
sus numbers, so there's no one playing with those. When you ex-
clude the refugee population, as I said before, from that immigrant
population, it falls below the rate of public assistance use by the
citizen population.

So I just would appreciate if you could perhaps provide us with
a copy of Mr. Borjas' article. That would help us understand some
of the information you are providing.

[The information follows:]




Ccorie J. Bofjas

Working Paper No. 4r72


1030 Mnorhitvas Aveaae

Cambhdft. MA 0213t

September 1994

I am fnteful to Scephea Trejo for many helpfiil diaawsion*. tad to the Naiioiul Sdeoce
Foundadon for rcjcaicb suppon. This paper is pan of NBER'i research programs in Labor
Studies and Public Economics. Any opinions expressed are diose of the andior and aoi diose of
the National Bureau of Economic Research.

e 1994 by George /. Boijas. AH righa reserved. Shon sections at text, not to exceed two
paragraphs, may be quoted without explicit pcimissioa provided diai foU cxedtt. iacloding 6
notice, is givea to the sourec.


NBER WadDBf Piper •4*72
Septanba 1994



Thu paper u^s ^ 1970. 1980. «d 1990 Public Use Sample, of the U.S. Census » «e
OK cvoluucn of .mnugr^t p«,^panon in wdf« pn>jr«« during *e p«t two decades. Tb.

cosu associ.^1 with Ous ««d « h»n, even f«s»r By 1990. i«nnup«»t bo^^c^J!^,
.^roporuona^ly hi, h^ax^of^ecashbe-^>- Hlc»ibut«i i, d>e Uni«l S««. Even *ou,h
only S.4 pcn:ent of Ok households «e fo«ip.-bom. d«e households accourxed for 10.1 percent

seholds a.at received public ass^unce. «ul for 13.1 percent of d>e uxal cash assistance

GeoTfc J. Borjas

Department of Economics, 0SO8

University of California. San DiefO

9S00 Gilman Dnve

La Jolla. CA 92093

and .VBER


George J Borjas'

I. Iniroduction

More immigrants will enter the Uniied States dunng the 1990s than m any other decade in
the countr\-'s iustory We are now admitting over SOO.OOO legal immigrants annually, and at least
200.000 il!ei;al aliens manage to evade the Border Patrol and settle permanently in the country In
view of the inc.-ease m the number of immigrants, as well as in the historic changes in their
national origin and sbll composition, it is not surprising that immigration has again become a
charged political issue Previous immigration debates revolved around the questions of whether
iiTbtiigrants assimilated in the United States and whether they took jobs away from natives The
rapid growth of entitlement programs in the past three decades introduces an additional explosive
question into the areiu Do immigrants "pay their way' in the welfare state**

The conventional wisdom regarding immigrant participation in welfare programs has
changed drastically in recent years. Blau's (1984) study, which analyzed data drawn from the
1976 Survey of Income and Education, concluded that immigrant households had a lower
probability of receiving publK assistance than US -bom (or "native") households • The more
recent work of Borjas and Trejo (1991), based on the joint study of the 1970 and 1980 Censuses,
concluded that b>- 1980 immigrant households were more likely to participate in welfare programs
than native households.

■See aJio Simon (I9ft4). Ticiida and Jenien (i9S6) and Jcntcn (190).


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progrtmi as well as the cotit iisocialed wiih the poieniiai creation o(% new underr . ;t Thit
coit-bcncru calcuialion will lurcly be a key componeni of ihe immigraiion dcbaie ihai is Itkely lo
dominate dontestic public policy in the next decade


Mr. Becerra. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Becerra.

Mr. Bryant of Texas is recognized.

Mr. Becerra, we have a copy of Dr. Borjas' article as well. We'll
share that with you.

Mr. Becerra. Thank you.

Mr. Smith. Mr. Bryant.

Mr. Bryant of Texas. I'd just like to raise perhaps, defense of all
of us here, one concern of mine. That is, I'm not very interested in
all the various ethnic groups, except to the extent that it explains
how we pass a bill like we did 4 years ago that increases the
amount of legal immigration. You had a lot of lobbjdng going on.
But in terms of who comes in here, it doesn't make any difference
to me. The one area where I disagree with Mr. Brimelow is the way
in which you assess assimilation, and that's now based on studies,
and your studies may be, therefore, may be authoritative. But my
own experience, being a legislator from the Southwest, is that the
third generation doesn't speak the native, the original language.
They speak English. The second generation speaks both, and the
first generation may or may not speak both. I think they assimilate
very rapidly.

My concern is just about the raw number of people coming into
the country. I don't care where they're coming from. And it seems
to me that that's the bottom line, that we risk getting off on a real
dangerous and sort of a seductive diversion by starting to talk
about all of these various ethnic groups here.

Let me ask Mr. Brimelow and then Mr. Skerry first about the
numbers. Is 700,000 or 800,000 people a lot of people for a country
with 250 million people?

Mr. Brimelow. Yes, it is, sir, because the birth rates of the na-
tive-bom have fallen so sharply. The Census Bureau quite aligned
the situation in the early 1900's, the last time we saw similar legal
numbers coming in, when there was a very high birthrate among
the native-born. So the Census Bureau now projects that the U.S.
population will stabilize in the 250-260 million range, if it's left to
Americans, but it's not being left to Americans because the Govern-

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JLegal immigration reform proposals : hearing before the Subcommitee on Immigration and Claims of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, May 17, 1995 → online text (page 9 of 30)