Millions of legally admitted immigrant households use at least one welfare program, and lax enforcement of federal rules is likely to blame, the Washington Times reports.
According to the Times, new legal immigrants can be denied benefits if they can't show any financial means — and those already in the country can be deported if they fail to live up to federal law requiring them to prove they won't end up on welfare.
But citing data from the Federation for American Immigration Reform,
the Times reports there's been just one deportation over the last three years of a legal immigrant who violated that provision.
"Like all removal grounds, they're supposed to deter that behavior, and it's there to make sure that [those] people come into this country are at least somewhat desirable," FAIR investigator Ian Smith tells the Times.
"It was supposed to be a filtration mechanism. It's like anything. If you don't enforce it, the deterrence element gets turned off."
More than half of immigrant-led households use at least one welfare program, according to research by the Center for Immigration Studies, the Times reports.
According to the Times, the problem has become how "public charge" is interpreted from court cases and White House guidance in the late 1990s that restricted when agents can pursue cases.
Smith tells the Times "more programs, not just cash programs, should be made out of bounds for immigrants when it comes to public charge removability. America's bountiful welfare system is a major magnet for unskilled foreigners to come here."
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