[Recently by Thomas Allen: When Treason Lobby Poster Children Go Bad…Nothing Changes]
I look at the Senate sell-out—what VDARE.COM calls the Kennedy-Bush Amnesty/Immigration Acceleration Bill—from my perspective as a student of the Refugee Industry.
It's awful from this point of view, too.
To see why, you have to know something about the way welfare and immigration interact. Take Supplemental Security Income [SSI], a $36 billion cash welfare program for the elderly poor and for the disabled of any age.
A good friend of mine is a social worker in a Washington, D.C. area county. His "clients" are mainly elderly beneficiaries of SSI.
About half of his "clients" are foreign-born. Many are not citizens—the only residency requirement is a "green card" (Legal Permanent Residency). Plus foreigners who arrive as refugees or asylees or "Cuban/Haitian entrants" or with "trafficking victim" visas are subject to no residency requirements. They are eligible upon arrival.
Among my friend's foreign-born "clients" is a wealthy gentleman who owns a factory back home in India, but apparently wanted to get away from his family and work on a book. He is able to do that in a D.C. suburb with the U.S. taxpayer covering most of his living expenses.
Another is the mother of a wealthy Cuban technology entrepreneur whom my friend would not name.
My friend's "clients" get more services if they can prove a certain level of infirmity. They are given a test to measure their physical ability. If they fail, they are rewarded with daily in-home assistance. It is common for my friend's elderly SSI/Medicaid clients to have this taxpayer-funded sitter service preparing meals, cleaning house and administering medicine for 6 to 8 hours a day, 5 days a week and sometimes all week.
The free housecleaning and sitter service is an entitlement even if your adult children are living in their own subsidized housing next door!
Needless to say, many healthy clients have figured out how to fail the test.
Entire cottage industries have grown up following the new path to wealth in America: become a "service provider" for the latest entitlement and then show people how to get that entitlement.
Immigrant-run Medicaid mills cater to recently arrived countrymen. One such mill, Renaissance Health (call them at 877-215-6026), run by ex-Soviets, specializes in providing sitter services to immigrants and "refugees" from the former USSR. It aggressively seeks new clients for the sitter service entitlement. And if a social worker questions the need for the service because the welfare recipient was seen, say, jogging or carrying groceries up stairs, Renaissance has a host of strategems at its disposal to override the naïve and presumptuous public service employee.
Ex-Soviets make up a substantial share of my friend's SSI recipients. According to my friend, in some cases, children of the SSI recipients are back home in Russia and Ukraine, having left their parents in the care of the county, state and federal taxpayer. For them, that daily sitter and house cleaning service is especially important.
More and more African refugees are showing up in social worker caseloads. Some in the relatively small, but rapidly growing number of African refugees on SSI have discovered that you can move from a country where you may not have had a toilet to one of the wealthiest counties in America where your toilet is cleaned by the taxpayer.
Back in 1995 Congress ordered a GAO study. It showed 785,410 non-citizen immigrants on SSI. SSI program costs were doubling every 3.5 years. The number of aged or disabled non-citizen recipients was growing at an average of 15 percent annually. Disabled non-citizen recipient usage was growing at 19 percent annually.[HEHS-95-137 Supplemental Security Income: Growth and Changes in Recipient Population Call for Reexamining Program, PDF]
It takes a lot to catch the attention of Congress when it wants to ignore something. But this was a trend it could not ignore. Modest measures were taken. They merely slowed the growth of the SSI usage among recent arrivals.
The MSM covered the story very lightly and virtually ignored the myriad ways in which the puny reforms were subsequently whittled away.
A follow-up GAO study showed that 8.3% of new citizens who naturalized in '96 and '97 received SSI. That's 3.5 times the rate of usage among native-born citizens in the same time frame. [WELFARE REFORM Public Assistance Benefits Provided to Recently Naturalized Citizens, June 1999 (gao/hehs-99-102) PDF]
Congress has not ordered a study of immigrant SSI usage since the mid-nineties.
The Senate has passed Kennedy-Bush, which a "path to citizenship" for 60-100 million over the next 20 years—without so much as a glance at programs like SSI where citizenship is not even a requirement.
The last time SSI was investigated, native-born citizen usage was declining while immigrant was usage was rising. Per recipient costs for immigrant SSI recipients were roughly 30% higher than per recipient costs for native-born users of the program. Both of these conditions doubtless still hold true today.
If anything like the current Senate bill becomes law without welfare reform, within a decade or so the SSI program will explode and could become the first welfare program to disburse the majority of its funds to the foreign-born, counting naturalized citizens and those still on the "path to citizenship."
Thanks to a somnambulant press and the silence of the opinion elite, we missed a wake-up call when the GAO reported in 1995. Will there be a wake-up call in 2006?
Thomas Allen (email him) is a recovering refugee worker.