The Trump administration wants to ban immigrants who are poor from entering the United States, according to a draft executive order obtained by the Washington Post.
The order, given the meaty little title of "Executive Order on Protecting Taxpayer Resources by Ensuring Our Immigration Laws Promote Accountability and Responsibility," would seek to "deny admission to any alien who is likely to become a public charge."
The language of the order also includes an unsubstantiated claim that households headed by immigrants are more likely to rely on government programs. There is no evidence in the draft to support this claim, but there is data elsewhere to contradict it.
In September 2015, the Center for Immigration Studies, a nativist think tank, released a report falsely claiming that immigrant-led households were more likely to use welfare than households led by native-born citizens. In response, the libertarian Cato Institute released a brief but thorough analysis debunking both its methodologies and conclusions.
Cato also cited a more methodologically sound study of its own from 2013 that found low-income non-citizen immigrants used less welfare than native-born citizens and, when they did use public benefits, they were generally less expensive than those used by native-born citizens.
You can go ahead and read the whole thing if you want, but this is the main conclusion (emphasis mine):
The combined effect of lower utilization rates and lower average benefits means that the overall financial cost of providing public benefits to non-citizen immigrants and most naturalized immigrants is lower than for native-born people. Non-citizen immigrants receive fewer government benefits than similarly poor natives.
There's also the fact that undocumented immigrants pay taxes that fund programs that they don't get to use, which means that rather than draining the system, they're actually subsidizing it.
But even debunking the Trump administration's claim on its face feels like ceding too much ground, since the idea that use of public benefits like Medicaid, food assistance, and cash assistance is a moral failing and that these programs should be inaccessible to immigrants is some real vile bullshit. (See also: Donald Trump is a serial tax-evader.)
This draft proposal could change or get scrapped altogether, but the leak signals the administration's priorities, and Trump has so far made good on its most racist campaign commitments.
Look, maybe it's trite or obvious or relies too heavily on the kind of sentimental nationalism and misguided faith in the American project that helped get Donald Trump elected in the first place, but: the poem mounted on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty literally says "give me your tired, your poor."
What is wrong with us.