Afghan immigrants increasingly rely on government welfare, are less educated than in the past

DCNFKaylee Greenlee, DCNF

Afghan immigrants increasingly relied on U.S. government welfare and are less educated than in the past, a Center for Immigration Studies report studying Census data from 2019 and released on Tuesday found.

The number of Afghan immigrants living in the U.S. increased from around 44,000 in 2000 to some 133,000 in 2019, with a majority living in California, Texas and Virginia, according to the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). Overall, the studies showed that Afghan immigrants were less educated than native-born American nationals and relied significantly more on welfare programs such as food stamps, cash benefits and Medicaid.

“The high rates of welfare use reflect the large share of Afghans who live in or near poverty and the success of refugee resettlement organizations in signing them up for programs, helping many assimilate into the welfare system,” according to the CIS.

Around 65% of Afghan immigrant households used at least one major government welfare program in 2019, up from 50% of households in 2010, the CIS reported. American household’s reliance on at least one federal program increased 2% over the same period, from 22% to 24%.

“Food stamp use by Afghan households increased … from 19 percent to 35 percent between 2010 and 2019, while falling from 11 percent to 10 percent for native-born households,” according to the CIS. “The share of Afghan households with one or more persons on Medicaid increased from 47 percent to 62 percent over this time period, while increasing from 19 percent to 22 percent for native households.”

The education rates of Afghan immigrants also decreased compared with U.S.-born individuals, the CIS reported. Around 26% of Afghan immigrants aged 25 to 64 had a bachelor’s degree in 2019, compared with 35% of Americans.

Of more than 65,000 total Afghan refugees recently evacuated by the U.S. from Kabul after the Taliban seized control, about 24,000 arrived in the U.S. by Sept. 3, The Wall Street Journal reported. More, American officials told nonprofit organizations assisting with refugee resettlement efforts to expect the arrival of up to 50,000 total Afghan refugees in the upcoming months.

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