Between 1994 and 1999, there were substantial declines in legal immigrant families' use of all major benefit programs: TANF (-60 percent), food stamps (-48 percent), SSI (-32 percent), and Medicaid (-15 percent). Low-income legal immigrant families with children had lower rates of usage for TANF and food stamps than low-income citizen families with children, but the rate of Medicaid enrollment did not differ. These results may reflect the effects of welfare reform on immigrant families and the success of policies intended to broaden health insurance coverage among children. Increased naturalizations or rising incomes within immigrant families did not account for the declining benefit use occurring between 1994 and 1999. Relying on 1995-2000 Current Population survey (CPS) data, this analysis distinguishes between legal immigrants, refugees, naturalized citizens and undocumented immigrants. It focuses on families with children whose incomes are below 200 percent of poverty.
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