That’s Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation, speaking of what would happen if an immigration proposal by Sens. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) becomes law. Their plan would grant amnesty to 9 million to 10 million illegal immigrants and put those immigrants on a path to citizenship.
Moreover, the Martinez-Hagel plan would pave the way for an estimated 103 million persons to legally immigrate to the U.S. over the next 20 years -- fully one-third of the current population of the United States. Current law allows 19 million legal immigrants over the next 20 years. The Martinez-Hagel plan would add an extra 84 million legal immigrants to that number.
“Effectively, within 20 years, a quarter of the U.S. population will be foreign born” under Martinez-Hagel, Rector says. He calls the prospect of such a huge influx “utterly unprecedented.”
If Martinez-Hagel becomes law, Rector says, we can expect “the largest expansion of the welfare state in 35 years.”
Why? Consider a few facts Mr. Rector has exposed:
• Half of all adult illegal immigrants lack a high-school degree. Among Latin American and Mexican immigrants, 60 percent lack a high-school degree and only 7 percent have a college degree. By contrast, among native-born U.S. workers, only 6 percent have failed to complete high school and nearly a third have a college degree.
• Immigrant households are about 50 percent more likely to use welfare than native-born households.
• Immigrants without a high-school degree (both lawful and unlawful) are two-and-a-half times more likely to use welfare than native-born individuals.
Then there’s the problem of out-of-wedlock childbearing, which a) correlates strongly with welfare use and b) is more prevalent among foreign-born Hispanics than among non-Hispanic whites (42.3 percent vs. 23.4 percent). “Children born and raised outside of marriage are seven times more likely to live in poverty than children born and raised by married couples,” Rector writes. “Children born out-of-wedlock are also more likely to be on welfare, to have lower educational achievement, to have emotional problems, to abuse drugs and alcohol, and to become involved in crime.”