According to a study released by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), taxpayer pay approximately $1.8 billion each year to resettle refugees and asylees in the country. Over the past five years, according to FAIR, the cost amounted to a total of $8.8 billion. FAIR said that taxpayers supported each refugee at the level of $15,900 annually, or nearly $80,000 per refugee over their first five years in the United States. Noting the the UN calculates the number of refugees in the world to exceed 65 million, FAIR contends that the cost of refugee resettlement in the U.S. "does little to address the worldwide refugee crisis."
"Unlike immigration policy – where the objective should be to admit people who are most likely to contribute – refugee and asylum admissions are humanitarian programs and we accept that there will be costs associated. The U.S. must remain committed to its role as a world leader in helping refugees, but we must also recognize that relocating refugees to this country is by far the most expensive alternative, and a financial commitment that lasts decades or more," said FAIR President Dan Stein.
FAIR's report, titled "The Fiscal Cost of Resettling Refugees into the United States," examines the cost of resettlement in the U.S. through an analysis of federal welfare program usage by recently-arrived refugees and asylees. The study tallies the impact on the American education, medical, welfare and other social services systems. The report notes that of the $1.8 billion in refugee resettlement expenditures, $867 million is tied to welfare costs alone, with more than 50 percent of refugees remaining on Medicaid over a five-year period.
"We are entering an era in which resettlement in the United States or other nations is simply inadequate to address the displacement of people due to conflict, overpopulation, environmental disasters, or the collapse of civil societies in many countries. Instead, the international emphasis will have to be on providing temporary refuge and protection in or near people's homes with the goal of safely repatriating them.
FAIR's report also sought to reckon the amount of refugees' earnings during the first five years of residence in the U.S., as well as their tax contributions. According to FAIR, about 54 percent of all refugees will participate in the workplace during their first five years in the country, but earn less than $11 an hour. The group contends that this means they are unlikely to pay federal income taxes and could end up receiving an additional government payout upon filing a tax return.
Other key findings:
$71 million: The cost of education for refugees and asylees, which falls almost entirely on state and local governments.
$128 million: 92.5 percent of refugees use the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)
$777 million: The cost of refugee and asylee resettlement which falls on the federal government