Ignoring the Cause of Welfare: Not Laziness but Low Wages

(This article is published in FAIR.)

Numerous US media outlets recently uncritically echoed a methodologically flawed report by an anti-immigration organization with ties to white supremacist groups (FAIR.org, 9/4/15). Beyond this serious problem, however, lies a larger and more endemic issue in media: an overarching anti-welfare framing.

News articles like those on a Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) report, which claims 51 percent of US households headed by immigrants receive some kind of welfare benefits, internalize anti-government assistance values, implicitly assuming that receiving welfare is a bad thing.

The impression many Americans hold is that people are on welfare because they are lazy. Corporate media often propagate this myth, failing to acknowledge scientific studies that show that most people on welfare live in working households, and that immigrants on welfare pay 4,500 percent more in taxes than they receive in government assistance.

“Are Immigrants Really Freeloaders? New Study Backs Trump’s Attacks,” CNBC asks (9/3/15). “A new study issued Wednesday by a group that favors tighter controls on immigration concludes that immigrants may be freeloaders after all,” it claims. But the CIS report, as flawed as it may be, does not say immigrants are freeloaders; it says they are welfare recipients.

Why do media use the terms “welfare recipient” and “freeloader” synonymously?

Read more at FAIR.