Immigration is a major issue in Europe just as it has been in the United States. In the U.S., there has been a fear that illegal immigrants would become criminals and/or live off of welfare programs, costing taxpayers’ money. Similar fears underlie European resistance to helping refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries torn by war. There is also a a fear that, unlike previous waves of immigrants, those entering the United States or Europe today make little effort to assimilate, sticking with their own languages, cultures, and intolerances.
In the United States, these fears appear to be largely unfounded. Illegal immigrants are not eligible for many kinds of welfare, yet they pay well over $10 billion per year in federal income and social security taxes yet they will never be allowed to collect social security. Other than the fact that illegal immigration is a crime, immigrants commit far fewer crimes per capita than native-born Americans. Finally, Latino immigrants to the U.S. have been assimilating at least as fast if not faster than previous immigrants.
To the extent that illegal immigrants do end up using taxpayer-supported programs such as healthcare and some kinds of some kinds of welfare, this indicates there are problems with those programs, not with immigration itself. When Lyndon Johnson created many welfare programs in the 1960s, they were aimed at getting people out of poverty. When Richard Nixon became president, he dismantled those programs and replaced them with straight welfare. In other words, instead of helping people out of poverty, Nixon’s programs paid people to remain poor. That’s a problem that has only been partially corrected since then.