The pro-open borders Migration Policy Institute, here in Washington, has just released a grim and thorough report on low-income migrants which is much stronger in its description of the problem than it is in suggesting possible solutions to it.
It says that low-income migrants (legal and illegal) amount to about one-third of all foreign-born; it defines them as individuals in families making less than 200% of the federal poverty level, an appropriate definition. In 2019, the federal poverty threshold was $16,521 for a family of two and $26,172 for a family of four.
The study is based on U.S. census data, more specifically on the American Community Survey of 2019. It finds that there were a whopping 14,799,000 of them. It uses the euphemism “immigrants” which suggests legal presence, when, as MPI notes later, at least a third of this population is here illegally.
Since the database relates to 2019 the study does not include (or even mention) the millions of illegal aliens that have entered this country in the last couple of years. Hence, if anything, it understates the problems caused by this population.
The study shows that the numerous low-income foreign-born population is remarkably different from the American population generally. Let’s take the question of earnings. Dealing with the “annual earned income of full-time, year-round workers ages 16 and older”. MPI finds that only 8% of the total population made less than $15,000 a year, while 57% of the low-income migrants were in that unhappy category. That is a huge difference.
As MPI does not point out, this means that a strong majority of this population, even back in 2019, did not make, on an annual basis, the equivalent to the totally out-of-date minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. That figure times 52 weeks times 40 hours a week equals $15,080.
MPI’s study also shows that 32% of this migrant population had no health insurance, as opposed to 8% of the total population. Similarly, 41% of the low-income migrant population has less than a high school education, while only 8% of all Americans are in that category.
These statistics strongly suggest both abject poverty and a large utilization of welfare systems (many of MPI’s population live in mixed families of legal and illegal immigrants, mixtures that allow welfare benefits for many in these families.)
What should be done about all this? These are MPI’s conclusions:
“The information presented in this fact sheet on the characteristics of low-income immigrants can inform efforts to address these challenges, through programs aimed at all U.S. residents or those targeted to immigrant families. These may include economic supports, education and training initiatives, or other services that address barriers to upward economic mobility.”
In short, MPI is only interested in spending billions to cure these obvious problems; it does not even mention the possibility of preventing their growth by something as simple (though difficult) as enforcing the immigration or the minimum wage laws. Nor does it suggest any combination of cure and prevention.
MPI seems to want only to let in more migrants (legal and illegal), and then it wants us to spend more on them than we are doing now. It just does not say so, in so many words.