More Media Misinformation:
There’s no tidy way to break down how much the U.S. spends per refugee. . . . But here’s how the main budget items in resettling refugees break down now with our current count of refugees, courtesy of [the National Conference of State Legislatures]. Keep in mind that the United States resettled about 70,000 refugees in fiscal 2014: Paying $582 million a year to resettle refugees is an unavoidable upfront cost if the United States wants to keep accepting refugees
But going back to the conventional wisdom that refugees are financial burdens: . . . [R]esearch from Denmark to Uganda to Cleveland [shows] they actually end up paying back their host countries by creating jobs (one study found that refugees are more likely to open small businesses) and encouraging their neighbors to specialize in jobs their better suited for, making economies run more efficiently. Here’s How Much the United States Spends on Refugees, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, 10/30/15
Fact Check: This article deserves credit for admitting that our refugee policy has a high price tag. But to its discredit, it gives the impression that refugees soon pay back the costs they incur. This is a distortion to say the least. Refugees to the U.S., unlike other immigrants, are entitled to apply for welfare programs as soon as they arrive. They are selected on the basis of humanitarian criteria, rather than for skills, so they commonly continue to receive benefits for a long periods of time. Refugee advocates claim that they become self-sufficient within five years, but this alleged sufficiency does not exclude dependency on non-cash welfare such as food stamps and Medicaid.
As far as being exceptional job creators, all immigrants including refugees own businesses at almost exactly the same rate as native-born Americans. And often the people immigrant employers hire are other immigrants. In terms of entrepreneurship, immigration does not offer the U.S. any net benefits.
The claim that refugees as well as all other immigrants promote economic efficiency is a standard line of immigration advocates. It maintains that immigrants mostly take jobs natives don’t want, and this allows native-born Americans to move into more attractive employment. One problem with this theory is that natives are the majority of workers in just about every job category. Immigrants and natives usually occupy the same economic space.
As David Frum explains in an article in The Atlantic, the efficiency argument is one commonly assumed by pro-immigration economists without a much empirical proof. Many Americans, he notes, are not moving to better employment because they can’t find it. Instead, they drop out of the workforce.
A much more cost-effective way to provide for genuine refugees (i.e., those with a genuine claim to persecution) is to resettle them in places close to their homelands and then encourage them to go home when dangers there subside. Resettlement nearby is less costly than bringing refugees to the United States and other Western countries. Unfortunately, many refugee advocates in the U.S. want to bring refugees here because they have a strong financial interest in doing so. The media are often happy to assist them.