America • American Conservatism • Economy • Foreign Policy • Immigration • Post • self-government • taxes • The Left • The Leviathian State • the Presidency • Trump White House

The Democrats’ Dilemma: Immigration and the Welfare State

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The Democrats used to be the party of the working class: they supported trade unions and believed in the welfare state. Their goal was to smoothe capitalism’s rougher edges, to humanize modern industrialism, and to give the common man a fair shake. One may find fault with their methods, but their stated goals were laudable and most of them were sincere in their beliefs.

Fast forward to 2018. The Democrats are the party of the elites. Their new mantra is “open trade and open borders,” as Hillary Clinton told Wall Street bankers in a private speech. Remember, it was the Democrats who supported President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership, a “free trade” deal that would have gutted American industries. And it is Democrats who currently oppose President Trump’s attempts to stop illegal immigration, which hurts America’s poor.

The Democrats don’t care about American workers. They care about winning elections.

At this point, the chorus of “progressive” rhetoric reaches fever pitch: “but we need immigrants to support the welfare state,” they say—”we need immigrants to pay for our pensions and healthcare!” But saying it does not make it so.

In truth, immigration is destroying the welfare state, in America and throughout the West. Here’s how:

Mass immigration destroys the welfare state because immigrants receive more in benefits than they pay in taxes. This is not true for every immigrant—some never collect government handouts—but it is true for the overall immigrant population. Studies from across the Western world prove this point.

A recent, and comprehensive study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that although immigration is (theoretically) revenue-neutral in America, not all immigrants are created equal. Half of all immigrants actually receive more in government assistance than they pay in taxes, but thankfully they are balanced out by the other half. Specifically, immigrants who came to America for family reasons, or arrived as refugees, cost a net present value of $170,000.

Net present value is how much money the government would need to invest today, at a yield of inflation plus three percent, to pay for said immigrant’s tax deficit over the course of his expected lifetime. Of course, the government does not do this—it spends only as it receives. Therefore, looking at net present value creates artificially low expectations.

According to the Heritage Foundation, each noneconomic immigrant more realistically costs a net of $476,000 in welfare payouts. And, of course, this does not account for any increases in government programs. Applying this more realistic figure to the original study means that immigrants consume far more in government services than they contribute to them. In fact, if immigration levels remain unchanged, those arriving over the next decade would cost American taxpayers a net of $1.9 trillion over their lifetimes. The welfare state is already struggling: immigration will make a bad problem worse.

Another important study, conducted by Denmark’s Ministry of Finance, found that immigrants were a net drain on that nation’s welfare state. In fact, non-EU immigrants, and their descendants, consumed 59 percent of the tax surplus collected from native Danes. This is not surprising, since some 84 percent of all welfare recipients in Denmark are immigrants, or the direct descendants of immigrants. The bottom line: immigration is a net burden on Denmark.

Likewise, a study conducted by Canada’s Fraser Institute, a think tank, found that mass immigration costs Canadian taxpayers some $24 billion per year—and this was using data from nearly a decade ago. The number has since increased significantly, as Canada has one of the highest immigration rates in the world.

Finally, a study from the University College of London found that immigrants consumed far more in welfare than they paid in taxes. Specifically, the study looked at the Labour government’s mass immigration push between 1995 and 2011. They found that immigrants from the European Economic Area made a small, but positive net contribution to the British economy of £4.4 billion (or just over $6 billion)  during the period. However, during the same period non-European immigrants (primarily from South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa) cost the British economy a net £120 billion (or $165.5 billion).

The origin-based economic differences are actually exacerbated by the UK’s generous welfare state: while European immigrants often left their extended families at home, to be cared for by their respective government, immigrants from the Third World generally brought their families with them, knowing that British taxpayers would care for them. From the immigrant’s perspective, this is a rational choice, but does it make sense for British taxpayers? No.

Together, these studies show that mass immigration won’t save the welfare state, instead, it will hasten its insolvency. In the end, immigrants won’t pay for our pensions, we’ll pay for theirs.

For decades, Democrats campaigned on promises of cradle-to-grave care for low-income Americans, while at the same time they’ve allowed millions of immigrants to come to America and collect welfare—without ever having contributed a dime to the public purse. This is not only unfair, it’s unsustainable. The welfare state is collapsing under its own weight, and mass immigration is only making this bad problem worse.

It’s time we forced the Democrats to choose between the welfare state and mass immigration.

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76 replies
  1. BanBait
    BanBait says:

    They’ll choose immigration. Jennifer Palmieri said it a couple of weeks ago: The Democrat Party needs immigration for its very survival. Which is also why Little Dick the Turban blew up the negotiations over DACA.

    • Dansidea
      Dansidea says:

      Our politicians seem to put the vast majority of their efforts into getting elected and re-elected. Being in “government” at all levels (especially the top) has become an industry in itself – kind of like how labor unions got perverted , it became far more easy and lucrative to work for the union than the automobile companies.

      • hansenwt
        hansenwt says:

        Big money….I make how much when I am campaigning compared to when I am working….so what shall I do today?

    • hansenwt
      hansenwt says:

      Another wonderfully vile swamp creature. The only good I can say about JP is she has not created a fake metoo story yet….but there’s still time.

    • Denise Rogers
      Denise Rogers says:

      You’re correct they will choose immigration because it will keep them in power and then they will be able to do whatever it is that they want. Which is complete permanent control

  2. hamburgertoday2017
    hamburgertoday2017 says:

    As usual, Mr. Morrison has salient views to share. However, while I understand presenting the dilemma as ‘welfare state’ vs ‘immigration’, there is a larger problem : international labor arbitrage — via both trade agreements and labor importation — has lowered the price of labor across the employment spectrum in the US. Outsourcing as well as ‘insourcing’ has undermined tax receipts for 30 years due to lower wages producing lower tax receipts.

  3. TJ Bone
    TJ Bone says:

    Nice article but its more than just about taxes and whether immigrants take more than they give in taxes. Its really about demographic race replacement. And its just the elite that want this.

    • mw006
      mw006 says:

      Demographic race replacement hits the nail on the head. How many times have you observed on television some liberal politician, commentator or activist remark with barely concealed glee that the country will no longer be a majority white nation by such and such a year? The implicit assumption is that this will represent progress, the overcoming of something historically bad.

      • Henry Miller
        Henry Miller says:

        The hole in the “logic” of the Left is that most of the 300 million privately owned guns in the US are owned by white males. And, for the naive, most of the members of of the American armed forces, including the National Guard, are white males.

        I suppose it’s possible that the Left thinks whites will simple sigh, “Oh, well…” as the country they spent four centuries, and millions of lives, creating is taken from them, but I think that’s a foolish bet.

    • ProfElwood
      ProfElwood says:

      Really, it’s more about the votes. The Christian white male is demonized specifically because they’re the most likely to vote for smaller government.

      • Denise Rogers
        Denise Rogers says:

        They are demonized because of Jim Crow and Slavery, KKK etc. Sorry that the black/brown voters don’t know or care that it was the Democratic Party in charge then, but they have systematically changed their History and now blame it all on the Republican’s, ,claiming that the Conservative Party was the Dixiecrats during Jim Crow.

    • JMIII
      JMIII says:

      The elites want to be able to treat people as simply “human capital”. Just like cattle, don’t have enough in area a, just ship in some excess from area b. No concerns about culture or language or values from the elites. The worker bees are nothing but drones in their minds.

      • hansenwt
        hansenwt says:

        You couldn’t be more correct…it is called controllable poverty. It has worked and been perfected in Dem controlled states/cities.

      • Denise Rogers
        Denise Rogers says:

        They treat them like slaves…white or black does not matter to them as long as they are in control…..

  4. Thumpger 7
    Thumpger 7 says:

    ASIA FOR THE ASIANS, AFRICA FOR THE AFRICANS, WHITE COUNTRIES FOR EVERYBODY!

    The words “immigration”, “tolerance” and “assimilation” are being used to PROMOTE a program of genocide against White children.
    According to International Law, open borders, FORCED integration, and assimilation is GENOCIDE.

    Except they don’t call it GENOCIDE when it’s done to White children.

    Then they call it “multiculturalism”

    STOP WHITE GENOCIDE!

    Anti-racist is a codeword for anti-White

    • TodayIsMyFavoriteDay
      TodayIsMyFavoriteDay says:

      5 wealthiest Arab – oil countries ……. for the safety, security, and stability of its citizens ……
      United Arab Emirates (UAE) – 100% BAN on Middle East refugees.
      Saudia Arabia – 100% BAN on Middle East refugees.
      Bahrain – 100% BAN on Middle East refugees
      Kuwait – 100% BAN on Middle East refugees
      Qatar – 100% BAN on Middle East refugees

  5. wheezer
    wheezer says:

    an one of you sanctimonious pedants on the left knows open borders and a welfare state cant co-exist.

  6. Laura85
    Laura85 says:

    I will probably have to emigrate to a non-socialist country. I’m not counting on it I will get a pension in thirty years. I think it might all be gone then.

  7. Jerome Barry
    Jerome Barry says:

    It’s only unsustainable when a couple of liberal governments around the world stop, reduce, or otherwise eliminate their social welfare systems. Since Britain, Japan (which xenophobically has no immigration problem that it admits), Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, and the rest of the G8 show no sign of broaching the subject of eliminating their social welfare systems, you’re wasting your electrons to write about it. You are, of course, very accurate to point out that migration from one country to another is entirely rational if the destination country has a social welfare system of any kind. Even Italy, with the EU obligation of providing for every refugee which lands on it’s shores, is a better place to live than Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, or Morocco, or Mali, or Niger, or Liberia or any of the other dozens of countries south of the Mediterranean.

    • Autumn Cote
      Autumn Cote says:

      Would it be OK if I converted this comment into a stand-alone article for Writer Beat? There is no fee; I’m simply trying to add more content diversity for our community and liked what you wrote. I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. You can learn more about Writer Beat by checking out my profile or just sayv “sure” and I’ll handle the rest.

    • Miek D.
      Miek D. says:

      Italy may not have the best run government and certainly doesn’t have the soundest finances, but I really enjoyed visiting the Amalfi Coast and would be very happy to live there. And where I live right now is pretty nice too. If I were from Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, or Morocco, or Mali, or Niger, or Liberia or any of the other dozens of countries south of the Mediterranean, I would be very happy to live there.

  8. brian_in_arizona
    brian_in_arizona says:

    Thanks for putting some numbers behind the statement that open borders and the welfare state cannot co-exist.

  9. cwon1
    cwon1 says:

    What makes a fight, like Gettysburg for example, is both sides thinking they can win and the stakes being existential. Unfortunately the GOP has at least 8 fifth columns (Graham the prime example) in the Senate.

    I’m with Trump but I’m far less certain of being on the winning side. The hate of the left is like nothing I’ve seen in my lifetime. It could be the hubris withdrawal syndrome of the Obama years but that EU fantasy of the administration state has never been higher.

  10. redmanrt
    redmanrt says:

    The dim communists will be perfectly happy to have absolute power over the smoking ruins of our republic.

  11. cwon1
    cwon1 says:

    A mistaken premise in the article is that the socialists care about positive results. They only care they end up in power.

    Everything should discussed in that context.

  12. DL242425
    DL242425 says:

    Dem policies don’t just destroy the welfare state, they destroy the world. That’s why they need to be eradicated!

  13. DisgustedwithElitism
    DisgustedwithElitism says:

    ‘Murray sums up: “So Europeans are blamed for what is happening to them, are denied any legitimate way to object, and the views of the majority are made to appear not just dangerous but marginal.”

    Where is all this going? It can’t end well.’

    from “How Europe Built Its Own Funeral Pyre, Then Leapt In” (www. theamericanconservative. com/ articles/ how-europe-built-its-own-funeral-pyre-then-leapt-in/)

  14. BJOSEPHS
    BJOSEPHS says:

    The scary part today is teaming up of the Progressives and Business especially big business, One wants a reliable voting bloc and the other wants an ample supply of labor to hold down wages. Business also knows that these migrants need at the very least food, clothing ,shelter, and some form of health care. These things will be bought often with taxpayer money from various businesses and it will increase business revenue AND PROFITS. Business will apply pressure to politicians to make sure that the taxpayers who fund these purchases is the American taxpayer and not American business. The middle class taxpayer will get squeezed to benefit both progressive politicians and business especially big business.

    • JMIII
      JMIII says:

      The BS of both parties is in full view. If they Democrats wanted better wages for lower income folks (fight for $15), they would back things like e-verify to help boost the employment demand for low income citizens. Same thing on the GOP side, they talk a good game but they want all efforts focused on the immigrants and not the employers. Make it horrid to employ an illegal and the problem will eventually go away.

  15. JohnnyClams
    JohnnyClams says:

    When my wife got her green card–she’s a Norwegian!–I had to solemnly swear on pain of perjury to a federal official in the Oslo embassy that I guarantee she would not go on welfare. When I applied for my daughter’s American birth certificate at the same embassy, I had to do the same.

    How come I had to do that? I feel like I’ve been cheated out of thousands of dollars of welfare payments by people from schiffhole countries.

    • SeanG
      SeanG says:

      The rules changed during the Clinton presidency. When I applied for a visa for my wife back in the early 80s, we had to sign the same forms and take the same oath that she would not take any welfare for at least ten years. The big push to increase immigration really started under Clinton/Gore. There was a big drive to naturalize immigrants and get them registered to vote; I remember them bragging about how many new voters they were creating just prior to the 1996 election. Statistical studies show that those new citizens are much more likely to vote for Democrats, and that’s the main reason for that party’s continued push for looser immigration rules. There is also the issue of tech companies pushing for relaxing the rules on H1B visas for workers, but both parties are guilty of pandering to the big pocket donors in this regard.

      • Denise Rogers
        Denise Rogers says:

        They were bragging about the numbers of white voters over the brown voters and that the white voter would soon be a thing of the past because their numbers are getting lower. Soon America will be brown.

  16. Matt Smith
    Matt Smith says:

    There is another way. Democrats will pay for the 21 million illegal aliens they allowed across our borders, illegally and treasonously. That is approximately 10.5 trillion dollars, or approximately the amount of the ObamaDebt that was stolen from us. It begins with blue states paying for my tax cut, and it will continue as we punish the coasts. They will work for us, and they will suffer.
    Democrats – your illegal drug sale profits are now mine. Your prostitution business profits from Nevada – mine. Your hollywood porn sale profits – mine. Sell your babies’ brains – just became my Lamborghini. Each one of your kidneys is worth $250,000 on the black market – I’ll decide whether you donate 1 or 2. Your drinking water, the air you breathe – all comes from me, and you will pay.

  17. donsker
    donsker says:

    Pretzel logic occurs when people are prejudiced against others due to their tribe or skin color but try to argue some rational basis for their bigotry. Sorry, ain’t working here. In case all of you chumps for Trump haven’t figured it out, we are an exceptional country because of our melting pot of immigrants. The Statute of Liberty’s welcoming greeting has been our beacon to the rest of the world. Sorry, chumps but you folks are getting booted out in November, 2018, and 2020. Oh yeah, and Trump gets impeached in 2019. Have a Nice Day.

    • 1952rmdg
      1952rmdg says:

      Your inflammatory name-calling rhetoric doesn’t address this issue – where’s the money going to come from to pay for all these government benefits that these immigrants will receive? The Statue of Liberty’s poem was written in the late 19th century when the US economy was vastly different than it is now, and the welfare state basically did not exist except for primarily private charity. We simply can’t afford to be the social service provider for the world’s poor, and as the advances in technology take hold, e.g., robotics, many, many low skill jobs, that these immigrants take will be eliminated – just look at the potential to remove thousands of cab drivers when these self-driving cars become commonplace.

    • Washington Nearsider
      Washington Nearsider says:

      “We are an exceptional country because of our melting pot of immigrants.”

      Yes. You’re precisely correct. Immigrants who came to this country legally, became Americanized, learned English, and adapted to our culture literally built this nation.

      However.

      To compare those immigrants to the millions of illegals pouring through our borders is asinine. Generally, illegal immigrants do not assimilate, do not become Americanized, and do not adapt to our culture.

      They attempt to impose their own.

      You’re comparing apples to oceans.

  18. Carolinatarheel
    Carolinatarheel says:

    Democrats will allow our government to shutdown and weaken our military in order to protect illegal immigrants!

    They need the illegal votes in November in hopes of gaining seats!

    Build the wall. America First!

  19. JMIII
    JMIII says:

    The Democrats will choose both. It fits squarely with their two key party principles:
    1. We know better than you what you should have/do and not have/not do.
    2. For anything that ails you, we have a government program and the best thing is we get someone you don’t even know to pay for it.

  20. 1952rmdg
    1952rmdg says:

    In September 2016, the Center for Immigration Studies issued a report that was printed in “Real Clear Politics” among other media outlets. This report noted that 60% of legal immigrants without children received at least one form of government benefits, while 70% of legal immigrants with children received government benefits. BTW, these benefits included Social Security, for which most of these immigrants had paid little to nothing into the system, so anyone who argues that high legal immigration will save Social Security is not being honest, since Social Security is being drained in part by allowing those who never paid in, i.e., legal immigrants, to get benefits.

  21. fedupMan
    fedupMan says:

    I have said this for a long time. The western civilization including USA is killing itself with kindness.

  22. StickyBalls
    StickyBalls says:

    The wealthy elites are there people behind mass immigration! They want cheap labor to bring down wages of all employees! Most elites give money to BOTH political parties! Trump always gave to the Democrats as well as the republitards! Open your eyes!

  23. Are you sure?
    Are you sure? says:

    I’m not concerned about the identity issues- i.e. what color, gender, flavor etc that immigrants identify with. Nor should Americans. We should care about whether they believe in our constitutional ideals- life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We should care about whether they can work and join the American struggle to pursue those lofty goals. We should not admit people who don’t like our country, want to collect free stuff, nor should we admit people because we feel they’ll vote for us or our political party. I’m an a naturalized citizen and these things seem self-evident.

      • Washington Nearsider
        Washington Nearsider says:

        Bingo.

        It’s not that they’re coming. It’s that they’re coming and attempting to impose their cultures on us.

        Immigrants from the past came to America, learned English, assimilated to the United States, and became Americans living in America.

        Today’s illegal immigrants don’t necessarily learn English, don’t generally assimilate, and generally become Guatemalan, Venezuelan, Mexican, et al. living in America.

        The difference between the two is vast.

        • craigsmith
          craigsmith says:

          Or they’re coming, bringing/recreating their culture, with the expectation that they will have everything provided for them. The new American dream sold by the left.

  24. underwearbomber
    underwearbomber says:

    There is no dilemma at all for Democrats.
    They will simply open the borders to increase an underclass they believe, correctly, will vote overwhelmingly for them, while at the same time fighting any reform of the welfare state tooth and nail, until it bleeds working Americans dry.

    Look at Barack Obama’s and Dickie Durbin’s Illinois. It’s been run by the same corrupt politicians for decades. Illinois cannot pay its bloated pension costs, despite raising taxes constantly, and is losing its most productive people, and tax base, to other states. Chicago is rife with drugs and gangs, as children, mostly black, are murdered in the streets, without a future, without hope. Yet the band plays on.

    The Democrats have no long term plan except more demagoguery, race baiting and financial collapse of the once great states they control, which they have turned increasingly to s***holes. This is the fate of the US of A if this insane self-destruction is not stopped.

    • Fred Friedman
      Fred Friedman says:

      Illinois is a shithole state controlled by union thugs and trashy Irish politicians like Mike Madigan speaker of the Illnois house of misrepresentatives. All the blue states are shithole states, New York, California, Maryland, New Jersey. All of them have pension fund shortfalls due to the political power of corrupt public employee unions. Deunionize the public sector and elect Republicans to the state legislature and the days of union thuggery will be gone with the wind.

  25. Brhurdle
    Brhurdle says:

    One subject that I find under studied is the impact of immigration on salaries. It seems logical to me that large scale immigration (especially of the illegal variety) has been the primary factor in the stagnation of wages. When supply exceeds demand, there is no natural force to encourage the increase of wages. If illegals take all the low skill manual labor jobs, then there is an over supply of intermediate skill manual labor to compete for the next level up jobs. This phenomenon impacts the entire skill level chain resulting in wage stagnation. The wealth inequality that liberals scream about is significantly impacted by unrestrained immigration. Under ordinary circumstances, there would be a shortage of labor causing companies to pay higher wages to attract employees. This would cause prices to increase, but companies would have to accept lower margins to retain business. In other words, there would be lower inequality of income/wealth.

  26. SeanG
    SeanG says:

    Here’s an idea: how about neither one? America does not need to be a welfare state, we should leave that for the failed socialist states and former communist people’s republics. We also don’t need mass immigration. Despite the lies we are being told, it is not the secret to our success. In fact, while there have indeed been waves of mass immigration in our past, those were always just temporary waves, followed by long periods of very low immigration. It was those periods between the waves when the immigrants completed their assimilation into the American culture. And not all of those prior waves were a great success; many Scandinavians returned to Norway in the 19th century, and similarly many Italians returned to Italy in the early 20th century, having found America to be too different from their native cultures. I think Republicans and conservatives are conceding too much on these issues. The underlying assumptions that either welfare or immigration is necessary are just not true.

    • ek ErilaR
      ek ErilaR says:

      Quite true. My grand aunt came over with the family in 1891, from 1900 to 1920, she worked escorting old Swedes back to Gothenburg.

  27. johnnydavis1
    johnnydavis1 says:

    The problem is that liberals don’t are about blowing up the system, running up unsustainable debt, etc. All they care about is power. And the more problems they create, the more they can whine about why we need more government (and they need more power). Democrats are all about creating problems and misery.

  28. Henry Miller
    Henry Miller says:

    “It’s time we forced the Democrats to choose between the welfare state and mass immigration.”

    Except that there’s no way to force them to make that choice–they’ll simply vote “yes” to both and to hell with the minor detail that it’s a vote for national suicide. At heart, the attitude of the Left is that they’ll happily destroy anything they can’t rule–look at every communist country that ever existed. Look at North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba. Look, for that matter, at Detroit. And, ultimately, they destroy everything the do rule.

    No welfare state can survive for the same reason that no “perpetual motion” machine can exist–at the very least, machines require a power source to overcome losses due to friction, and societies need productivity sources to make up for their unproductive members.

  29. mistermcfrugal
    mistermcfrugal says:

    The dirty little secret here is the Democrat elites place an extremely high value on issues like keeping their abortions, homosexual marriage and other immoral actions that are not so important to average lower class family more focused on just making it. If leftists can get open borders with promises of huge spending on the new “immigrants” who, in turn, will pay back the elites with Democratic votes, the leftist elites get really turns them on.

    Have you even been around these leftist elites? They go nuts talking about abortion and their homosexual friends who are planning a wedding. THIS is what is important to them.

  30. Chris Chiller
    Chris Chiller says:

    Please look at the thoughtfully offered links in this opinion piece. The Academies Study offers this description:”The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration finds that the long-term impact of immigration on the wages and employment of native-born workers overall is very small, and that any negative impacts are most likely to be found for prior immigrants or native-born high school dropouts. First-generation immigrants are more costly to governments than are the native-born, but the second generation are among the strongest fiscal and economic contributors in the U.S. This report concludes that immigration has an overall positive impact on long-run economic growth in the U.S.” Please read all the words. We need a common reality to make good policy. Our feelings, strong though they be, are not part of common reality.

  31. Fred Friedman
    Fred Friedman says:

    We do not need any more ignorant, low skilled voters from shithole Latin American nations. These people are socialists who will vote for the party of gay marriage, abortion, forced unionization, Hollywood, The ACLU, leftist Jewish professors who have a manifest contempt for middle America, a party opposed to immigration and voter id laws, fracking, religious freedom and gun ownership. The Democratic party is a congeries of sixties protest movements that have morphed into the stench of identity politics that undermines our sense of common citizenship and a common culture. They are a party of minority groups that wallow in a politics of grievance, victimization, entitlement and self pity. We do not need to add to the storehouse of ignorant voters that the Democrats already have-the cemetery vote, criminals and blacks. Enough is enough. Immigration policy should be made in our interests as a nation not on the basis of ethnic lobbies like LARaza or the temper tantrums of the Jews who run the ACLU or NY Times

  32. pethal me
    pethal me says:

    Excellent article, but you forgot to mention the biggest cost on our society. These immigrants are importing socialism. They want big government. They came for the freebies, and they will vote for the politicians who dish ‘em out. They can be counted on to vote for a Democrat 85 percent of the time.

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