Report: Obama’s Plan To Import 10,000 Refugees Would Cost Taxpayers $6.5 billion

Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis
Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis

President Obama’s plan to import 10,000 Syrian refugees would cost U.S. tax payers $130 million per year, according to projections from Heritage Foundation scholar Robert Rector.

Extended out over the next 50 years, these additional 10,000 migrants would cost U.S. taxpayers $6.5 billion over the course of the migrants’ lifetime.

On Sept. 10, a White House spokesman said President Barack Obama would grant residence to 10,000 additional Syrians in 2016, along with the routine inflow of 70,000 refugees and 1 million new immigrants. Many establishment Republican presidential candidates such as Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Lindsey Graham, say it’s the United States’ duty to import these economic migrants from predominantly poor and Muslim countries.

Because refugees, by law, are required to apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status one year after entering the United States, they fairly soon become eligible for all federal benefits paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Moreover, if they have U.S.-born children then those children are immediately eligible for services.

A low-skilled legal immigrant generally receives $4 of benefits for every $1 of taxes they contribute– this would apply to low-skilled refugees over time as well. Rector notes that we do not know the specific education status of each individual refugee. However, assuming that they are predominantly low-skilled, each migrant would cost U.S. taxpayers $13,000 per year. The importation of 10,000 migrants, therefore, would result in a net cost (total benefits received minus total taxes paid) of $130 million per year.

This $6.5 billion expenditure to provide community services, education, health, welfare and retirement costs to 10,000 migrants comes in addition to the approximately $13.5 billion in foreign aid to Middle Eastern nations that United States taxpayers sent in 2013.

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has said that the United States’ immigration policy needs to prioritize the national interests of its citizenry. “Look, from a humanitarian standpoint, I’d love to help. But we have our own problems. We have so many problems that we have to solve,” Trump declared on Wednesday night’s broadcast of Hannity.

Trump explained that Muslim countries should be willing to take in some of the Muslim migrants: “The Gulf states [are] tremendously wealthy. You have five groups of people, six groups, they’re not taking anybody. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, these are tremendously wealthy and powerful from the standpoint of money. They — they’re not taking anybody. Russia’s not taking. Nobody’s taking. [But we’re] supposed to take — we have to straighten out our own problems,” Trump said.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has articulated a similar position. “No, we shouldn’t be taking on any more Syrian refugees right now,” Walker told reporters on Wednesday in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

By contrast, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham– all of whom support expanding record high immigration rates– have announced their willingness to accept migrants.

“I would be open to that if it can be done in a way that allows us to ensure that among them are not people who are part of a terrorist organization who are using this crisis,” Rubio told Boston Herald Radio on September 8th. This proposal could result in the admittance of many refugees. “The vast and overwhelming majority of people who are seeking refuge are not terrorists, of course, but you always are concerned about that,” Rubio said.


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