The Cost Of Resettling Refugees In The United States – $8B In Five Years

Research conducted by The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) , analysts concluded the annual refugee resettlement costs to U.S. taxpayers.  The biggest chunk is welfare benefits.

At the end of 2016, the United Nations estimates that a record-setting 65.3 million people had been forcibly displaced from their homes due to conflict or persecution. Many of those people will seek refuge in the developed countries of the West, including the United States. Reflecting America’s long tradition of providing refuge to the oppressed, we have admitted over 3.5 million people since 1980 and 96,900 refugees just in the last year in 2016.

As the nation considers what levels of immigration we can fiscally and environmentally sustain, it is important to understand the costs of resettling both refugees (people seeking refugee status abroad) and political asylum seekers (those applying for refugee status from within the United States).

According to a new study released by FAIR, the annual cost to U.S. taxpayers is $1.8 billion and over five years, that financial burden skyrockets to $8.8 billion.

Graphic (using ORR data) is from a 2015 report by then Senator Sessions Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest.

Using the most recent admissions figures, data on federal and state public assistance programs, and information from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), our analysis found:

  • The cost per refugee to American taxpayers just under $79,600 every year in the first five years after a refugee is resettled in the U.S.;
  • In 2016, the State Department spent nearly $545 million to process and resettle refugees, including $140,389,177 on transportation costs;
  • Of the $1.8 billion in resettlement costs, $867 billion was spent on welfare alone;
  • In their first five years, approximately 54 percent of all refugees will hold jobs that pay less than $11 an hour;
  • $71 million will be spent to educate refugees and asylum-seekers, a majority of which will be paid by state and local governments.
  • Over five years, an estimated 15.7 percent of all refugees will need housing assistance, which is roughly $7,600 per household in 2014 dollars.

It is important to note that this analysis does not address the costs associated with any incurred national security and law enforcement costs associated with some refugees who pose a threat. The total price of additional vetting and screening expenditures, law enforcement and criminal justice costs, and federal homeland security assistance to state and local agencies is hard to quantify.  FAIR

FAIR’s report