Illegal immigrants impact health care debate

NY Times:

Immigration over the past seven years was the highest for any seven-year period in American history, bringing 10.3 million new immigrants, more than half of them without legal status, according to an analysis of census data released today by the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington.

One in eight people living in the United States is an immigrant, the survey found, for a total of 37.9 million people — the highest level since the 1920s.

The survey was conducted by Steven A. Camarota, director of research at the center, which advocates reduced immigration.

Mr. Camarota has been active in the national immigration debate. Independent demographers disputed some of the survey’s conclusions, but not Mr. Camarota’s methods of data analysis.

A large proportion of recent immigrants, both legal and illegal, are low-skilled workers and about one-third of those have not completed high school, giving them significantly less education than Americans born in the United States, according to the study, which is based on census data as recent as March of this year.

The survey focuses on public costs associated with the new generation of immigrant workers. It does not, however, analyze contributions they make by paying taxes and taking undesirable, low-income jobs — an omission criticized by some immigration scholars.

Still, the survey provides a panorama of the effects of immigration since 2000.

About 30 percent of all immigrants and their children lack health insurance, Mr. Camarota reports, compared with 13 percent of native-born Americans. One of every three uninsured people in the country is an immigrant or a young American-born child with at least one immigrant parent, he found. Immigrant families account for almost three-quarters of the increase in the uninsured in the past 15 years, he concludes.

Immigrants are employed at higher rates than Americans, according to the survey. But because of their low educational levels, many work in low-paying, entry-level jobs that do not provide health insurance or other benefits.

“Immigrants have had an enormous impact on the lack of health insurance,” Mr. Camarota said. “If we are going to have a debate about health insurance, we should recognize that most of the growth in the uninsured comes from recently arrived immigrants and their American-born kids.”


This study is likely to have a significant effect on the general election because polling has shown that one aspect of the immigration debate that people are most angry about is the paying of benefits to illegals. This was seen in the debate of drivers licenses which is more about privileges than benefits, but it fits the pattern. Since all the Democrat health care proposals are focused on the uninsured, that would mean that a major portion of the proposed expenditures would be going toward illegal immigrants. I think the Republicans can make a lot of hay with this issue. You can see the full Camarota report at the Center for Immigration Studies.


  1. The truth is still pending issue in the United States of immigrants who by now must be dignified with rules of course ... but somehow included in the system to contribute to revenue growth


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