Frequently Asked Questions
Crisis on America’s Southern Border
Why are so many people fleeing parts of Central America?
Will amnesty or a failure to enforce our immigration laws destroy the Rule of Law in the U.S?
For the Rule of Law to be present, good laws are required, not just strict adherence to government enforcement of bad laws. An amnesty is an admission that our past laws have failed, they need reform, and that the net cost of enforcing them in the meantime exceeds the benefits. That is why there have been numerous immigration amnesties throughout American history.
Enforcing laws that are inherently capricious and that are contrary to our traditions is inconsistent with a stable Rule of Law, which is a necessary but not sufficient precondition for economic growth. Enforcing bad laws poorly is better than enforcing bad laws uniformly despite the uncertainty. In immigration, poor enforcement of our destructive laws is preferable to strict enforcement but liberalization is the best option. Admitting our laws failed, granting an amnesty for lawbreakers, and reforming the law would not doom the Rule of Law in the United States—it would strengthen it. Learn more at https://www.cato.org/blog/14-most-common-arguments-against-immigration-why-theyre-wrong.
Are immigrants a major source of crime?
The most contentious debate concerns whether illegal immigrants are more likely to be criminals than natives or legal immigrants. A recent finding on this issue shows that illegal immigration is not correlated with violent crime rates nor is it causal. Data limitations on the federal government force researchers to estimate the incarcerated illegal immigrant population using the residual estimation method which finds that illegal immigrants are much less likely to be incarcerated than native-born Americans but more likely than legal immigrants. The state of Texas actually recorded arrests and convictions for specific crimes by the immigration status of the arrestee and convict. In 2015 in Texas, there were 1,794 convictions against natives per 100,000 natives, 782 convictions of illegal immigrants for every 100,000 illegal immigrants, and only 262 convictions of legal immigrants per 100,000 of them. For all but four crimes that accounted for 0.18 percent of all criminal convictions in Texas in 2015, there were fewer convictions against illegal immigrant than against natives. The year 2016 shows even lower criminal conviction rates for illegal immigrants relative to natives in Texas. Learn more at https://www.cato.org/blog/14-most-common-arguments-against-immigration-why-theyre-wrong.
Will Immigrants take American jobs, lower our wages, and especially hurt the poor?
Do Immigrants abuse the welfare state?
Immigrants are less likely to use means-tested welfare benefits than similar native-born Americans. When they do use welfare, the dollar value of benefits consumed is smaller. If poor native-born Americans used Medicaid at the same rate and consumed the same value of benefits as poor immigrants, the program would be 42 percent smaller.
Immigrants also make large net contributions to Medicare and Social Security, the largest portions of the welfare state, because of their ages, ineligibility, and their greater likelihood of retiring in other countries. Far from draining the welfare state, immigrants have given the entitlement portions a few more years of operation before bankruptcy. If you’re still worried about foreign-born consumption of welfare benefits, as I am, then it is far easier and cheaper to build a higher wall around the welfare state, instead of around the country. Learn more at https://www.cato.org/blog/14-most-common-arguments-against-immigration-why-theyre-wrong.
Today’s immigrants don’t assimilate like immigrants from previous waves did, do they?
The second book is a July 2015 book entitled Indicators of Immigrant Integration 2015 that analyzes immigrant and second-generation integration on 27 measurable indicators across the OECD and EU countries. This report finds more problems with immigrant assimilation in Europe, especially for those from outside of the European Union, but the findings for the United States are quite positive. . Learn more at https://www.cato.org/blog/14-most-common-arguments-against-immigration-why-theyre-wrong.
Do immigrants pose a unique risk today because of terrorism?
The risk of foreign-born terrorism on U.S. soil has also increased fears over the government’s vetting system for new immigrants and travelers, prompting President Trump to temporarily ban travelers and immigrants from certain countries. But according to my colleague David Bier, there have been very few vetting failures since 9/11. From 2002 through 2016, only one radicalized terrorist entered the United States for every 29 million visa or status approvals. Only one of the post-9/11 vetting failures resulted in an attack on U.S. soil, meaning that a single deadly terrorist entered as a result of a vetting failure for every 379 million visas or status approvals from 2002 through 2016. That is a very low risk especially compared to the pre-9/11 vetting system. Learn more at https://www.cato.org/blog/14-most-common-arguments-against-immigration-why-theyre-wrong.
Will a brain drain of smart immigrants to the U.S. impoverish other countries?
Economic development should be about increasing the incomes of people and not the amount of economic activity in specific geographical regions. Immigration and emigration do just that. Learn more at https://www.cato.org/blog/14-most-common-arguments-against-immigration-why-theyre-wrong.
U.S. Refugee Resettlement
Who is eligible for refugee status in the U.S.?
* Is located outside of the United States
* Is of special humanitarian concern to the United States
* Demonstrates that they were persecuted or fear persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group
* Is not firmly resettled in another country
* Is admissible to the United States
A refugee does not include anyone who ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
For the legal definition of refugee, see section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
How rigorous is the refugee admissions vetting process?
How many refugees are currently being admitted to the U.S. and from what countries?
|Europe & Central Asia||3,000|
|Latin America & the Caribbean||3,000|
|Near East & South Asia||9,000|
Refugees get huge settlement grants and interest free loans, don’t they?
|Household Size||Single Person||2 People||3 People||4 People||5 People|
|Rent (3 months)||$1,650||$1,800||$1,950||$1,950||$2,100|
|Utilities (3 months)||$945||$945||$945||$1,100||$1,100|
|Food @ $5 day/each||$150||$300||$450||$600||$750|
|Bus Pass (1 month)||$90||$180||$180||$240||$240|
|Subtotal – Expense||$3,805||$4,365||$4,815||$5,500||$6,050|
Sometimes, refugees live within walking distance of their services and do not need bus passes; other times their landlord might waive the security deposit. In any case, the resettlement agency must reach out to the community for charitable contributions to meet the funding gap, which averages $100 per refugee sponsored.
To assist with initial transition, refugees are also eligible for TANF benefits (cash assistance) at Missouri state rates and Medicaid for no longer than eight months after arrival. However, since TANF rates are so low, most newly arrived refugees go to work as soon as they can find a job, regardless of their knowledge of English or previous work experience.
Also, after six months, refugees are required to begin repaying their travel loans which can cost as much as $1,500 per person.
In addition, there are special small business start-up loans for refugee entrepreneurs. However, the interest rate for such loans is higher than if they borrowed from a bank. Once they build their credit history and acquire collateral, we encourage such borrowers to see business loans at a traditional financial institution.
What are some credible data resources?
* United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
* Population, Refugees & Migration of the U.S. Department of State
* Office of Refugee Resettlement of the Department of Health & Human Services
Key Facts about Refugees to the U.S.
* Pew Research Center