STUDY: Resettling Refugees Costs U.S. $1.8 Billion Annually

New FAIR Study: Resettling Refugees Costs U.S. $1.8 Billion Annually

(February 5, Washington, D.C.) – The resettlement of refugees and asylum seekers in the U.S. costs federal taxpayers approximately $1.8 billion a year, and a staggering $8.8 billion over five years. These expenditures amount to $15,900 per refugee annually, or nearly $80,000 per refugee over their first five years in America – according to a new study released by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Moreover, the enormously costly resettlement of refugees in the United States does little to address the worldwide refugee crisis. The report notes that the United Nations estimates that the world’s current refugee population exceeds 65 million.

“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.

Welfare Costs Soar

The issue brief, “The Fiscal Cost of Resettling Refugees into the United States,” examines the high cost of resettlement in the U.S. through a detailed 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.

Unlikely to Pay Federal Taxes

The report also tallies refugee earnings throughout their first five years in the United States to estimate their tax contributions. Approximately 54 percent of all refugees will participate in the workplace during their first five years in the country, earning less than $11 an hour. 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

“Increasingly, some refugees also create huge national security and public safety costs and concerns,” said Stein. “These concerns should also be factored into decisions about relocating them in the U.S.”

Contact: Joe Gomez, jgomez@fairus.org202-742-1843

Founded in 1979, FAIR is the country’s largest immigration reform group. With more than 1.3 million members and supporters nationwide, FAIR fights for immigration policies that serve national interests, not special interests. FAIR believes that immigration reform must enhance national security, improve the economy, protect jobs, preserve our environment, and establish a rule of law that is recognized and enforced.