Most immigrants to American come here legally. According to the Department of Homeland Security, about 75% of today’s immigrants have legal permanent visas. That leaves just 25% that are undocumented – of those 40% overstayed temporary visas.
Immigrants don’t come here just to take advantage of welfare programs. In fact, undocumented immigrants are not even eligible for most government programs, including welfare, food stamps and Medicaid. Even legal immigrants can’t receive benefits until they have been in the United States for more than five years. Non-citizen immigrant adults and children are about 25% less likely to be signed up for Medicaid than their poor native-born equivalents and are also 37% less likely to receive food stamps, according to a 2013 study by the Cato Institute. For more information on government benefits and immigrants, check out this brochure.
Immigrants are contributing members of society and give a big boost to our economy. As of 2013, immigrants had paid more than $205,405,000 in taxes in South Carolina alone. In fact, $33 million in state and local taxes was paid by unauthorized immigrants alone in 2013. In 2013, the businesses of immigrants had sales and receipts of $4.6 billion and immigrants accounted for $7.1 billion in consumer purchasing power in South Carolina!
Immigrants come to the United States from all over the world in search of a better life for themselves and their families. Oftentimes this means leaving loved ones behind while they try to establish a life in the United States. Obviously, legal immigration is the most desired form of immigration to the United States by immigrants seeking to move here, but applying for a U.S. Visa costs hundreds of dollars without factoring in lawyer fees. There are people in places like Mexico and the Philippines that have high immigration to the United States that wait more than 10 years to obtain a United States Visa. Many people are attempting to come to the United States to escape unimaginable violence in their home countries. This often means that they do not have the money to pay for the process much less the time to wait to get their Visas.
The most important thing to remember about immigrants is that they are just the latest in a long history of immigration in America. In fact, the percentage of the U.S. population that is foreign-born now is less than it was in the early 20th-century. The immigrants of today, like those from our past, begin by settling in their own neighborhoods and building businesses for their fellow immigrants, but eventually integrate into the “Melting Pot” of America. “If we view history objectively, we remember that every new wave of immigrants has been met with suspicion and doubt and yet, ultimately, every past wave of immigrants has been vindicated and saluted.” – The Immigration Policy Center