More than half of the nation's immigrants receive some kind of government welfare, a figure that's far higher than the native-born population's, according to a report to be released Wednesday.
About 51% of immigrant-led households receive at least one kind of welfare benefit, including Medicaid, food stamps, school lunches and housing assistance, compared to 30% for native-led households, according to the report from the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates for lower levels of immigration.
Those numbers increase for households with children, with 76% of immigrant-led households receiving welfare, compared to 52% for the native-born.
The findings are sure to fuel debate on the presidential campaign trail as Republican candidates focus on changing the nation's immigration laws, from calls for mass deportations to ending birthright citizenship.
Steven Camarota, director of research at the center and author of the report, said that's a much-needed conversation to make the country's immigration system more "selective."
"This should not be understood as some kind of defect or moral failing on the part of immigrants," Camarota said about the findings. "Rather, what it represents is a system that allows a lot of less-educated immigrants to settle in the country, who then earn modest wages and are eligible for a very generous welfare system."