Contentions is back spouting nonsense on immigration. It is a variation of the fall back position regarding the immigration debate and how the neo-cons are trying to straddle the line on immigration. Here it is: illegal immigration bad, legal immigration good. But they are blaming the States, specifically California for making illegal immigration bad. Otherwise illegal immigration would be good as well.
Like Jennifer, I’m an advocate of increased legal immigration. I believe immigration is a net positive. There is no question that today’s illegal immigrants are a net burden
to California’s government-provided social services. But the place to look for the root of that problem is California policy.
If you don’t have an ever-expanding list of entitlement benefits, illegal immigrants can’t take advantage of it. The original problem is the expansion of benefits and “services” well beyond anything that makes sense. The authors of that problem are in the statehouse in Sacramento. The key reasons why state expenditures on social services have increased dramatically in the last quarter-century are the following: the scope of benefits has expanded; the eligibility standards have been loosened; and the state has expanded its own payroll to include hundreds of analysts and managers who function as advocates for enlarging their programs.
In 1999, for example, California’s Healthy Families program made families eligible for state health benefits at incomes up to 250 percent of the poverty level. Then, in the 2000s, the list of state benefits lengthened significantly. By 2009, with the housing market and the overall economy crashing, Governor Schwarzenegger had to freeze enrollments in the program. It had driven the state’s direct expenditures on medical services up from a little over $8 billion in the 1999 budget to more than $14.3 billion in 2007. (Budget figures here.)
From 1985 to the high-water spending year of 2008, California’s total state expenditures on health and social services — in non-adjusted dollars — rose from $8.64 billion to $29.34 billion. In adjusted dollars (adjusting the 1985 figure to $17.28 billion), the difference represents an increase in social spending of 64 percent in that 23-year period, while the population increased only 39 percent.
However, they get the welfare problem in California wrong. California years ago extended all welfare programs to legal immigrants. Previously there was a five year restriction on legal immigrants access to most welfare programs at the federal level, but States were authorized to allow them on their jointly administered welfare programs, and California did.
Most illegals can't get direct access to even California welfare programs, especially Medi-CAL. They do have access to clinics and county hospitals, but for most illegals to get access, they must be part of a mixed legal-illegal family.
In fact, what Contentions describes as California's illegal immigration problem with welfare is in fact a welfare spending problem on legal immigrants. Medi-CAL and Healthy Families are programs that attract legal immigrants, and the least productive of legal immigrants. It appears that the smart guys and gals at Contentions are being a bit disingenuous. There are not many illegals on those programs, but there are millions of legal immigrants taking advantage. While California can help solve its budget problem by restricting access to those programs by legal immigrants, it will not do that much good, since the States can only restrict those legal immigrants with less than five years in the country. After that, there can be no restrictions, and, in any event, after 5 years legal immigrants can naturalize. So the problem is not illegals, but legal immigrants who are bloating California's and other States welfare roles, not to mention the Federal welfare programs, such as Supplemental Security Income, food stamps and TANF. So far as the welfare budget is concerned, illegal aliens are much better for the budget. Most are young adult males who are working, with little or no access to welfare and who make little use of medical services. While illegals have their own costs, welfare is generally not one of their costs. Demographically, young males use little healthcare and are at their peak earning levels. Once they get married, get older, or have children, then their costs escalate. But generally, illegals are much cheaper than legal immigrants. Just more boob bait for bubbas from the neocons.