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Paying Their Way

by Reihan Salam

Sponsors of immigrants should fund their welfare benefits

In the wake of House majority leader Eric Cantor’s political defenestration at the hands of GOP primary voters, we’ve been told comprehensive immigration reform is dead. Before it rises from the dead yet again, as it has so often in the recent past, conservatives have an opportunity to reframe the immigration debate. For a good example of how the Right might do so, we should look to the immigration debate of the 1990s.

One of the chief concerns of the critics of the immigration-policy status quo, then as now, was that large numbers of immigrants were eligible for a range of anti-poverty programs — cash welfare, food stamps, disability, the earned-income tax credit, and Medicaid, among others.

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