Jeff Sessions: Lifetime Cost of Refugee Resettlement $55 billion

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) grilled attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch on immigration during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee January 28, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Jeff Sessions is slamming the House Republican legislative response to President Obama’s refugee plan, charging that it “fails to defend the interests of the American people.”

“It is based on a flawed premise, as there is simply no way to vet Syrian refugees,” Sessions said in a statement.

Just over a month ago, officials from the Department of Homeland Security admitted before the Immigration Subcommittee that there is no database in Syria against which they can run a check. They have no way to enter Syria to verify the applicants’ personal information.  And we know the region is being flooded with false documents.

The House is slated to vote Thursday on “American SAFE Act” which would impose tougher restrictions on Syrian refugee admissions to the U.S.

Sessions in opposition to the planned legislation, said that the Obama administration itself has acknowledged it cannot be sure that Syrian refugees will not be terrorists or join ISIS in the future. He also argued that the U.S. already resettles more than 100,000 Muslim migrants annually.

In just the last year, refugees and migrants allowed into America from Bosnia, Somalia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Ghana, Kuwait and Bangladesh have been implicated in terrorism. And, as we have seen, the U.S.-born children of migrants are also at risk for radicalization,” he said.

Ignoring this reality, the American SAFE Act allows the President to continue to bring in as many refugees as he wants from anywhere in the world. With respect to Syria and Iraq, the American SAFE Act requires only that the President direct his Secretary of Homeland Security, Director of National Intelligence, and FBI Director (all his appointees) to sign off on the administration’s screening process – a process that the White House continually asserts is adequate and ‘ensures safety.’ The plain fact is that this bill transfers the prerogative from Congress to President Obama and ensures the President’s refugee resettlement initiative will continue unabated.

According to Sessions the only way to ensure that Congress has control over the matter is to use the power of the purse.

Of course, the President can easily veto the measure as well. There is only one true check now against the President going it alone: Congressional funding. In his annual budget request, the President asked for more than $1 billion to fund the Refugee Admissions Program. All Congress has to do is make clear that the President’s funding request will not be granted unless he meets certain necessary Congressional requirements – the first of which should be to make clear that Congress, not the President, has the final say on how many refugees are brought into the United States and from where.

Sessions concluded by highlighting the high cost of refugee resettlement, noting that the plan leave taxpayers footing a hefty bill.

Finally, the House plan does not offset a single penny of increased refugee resettlement costs. As currently structured, the House plan would give the President the money he wants for refugee resettlement and then leave taxpayers on the hook now and in the years to come for the tens of billions of dollars in uncapped welfare, education, and entitlement costs certain to accrue. Thus, in addition to the enormous welfare costs – 91% of recent Middle Eastern refugees are on food stamps and 73% receive free healthcare – we will also be taking money directly from Americans’ Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds to provide retirement benefits for refugees. The real costs of this refugee expansion has not even been ascertained.

A recent analysis finds that admitting 10,000 refugees to the United States presents a net lifetime cost to taxpayers of $6.5 billion, meaning that under the current plan to admit 85,000 refugees this fiscal year, taxpayers will be on the hook for $55 billion. For the cost of resettling one refugee in America, we could successfully resettle 12 refugees in the region. Creating safe-zones in Syria and the region is a vastly more effective and compassionate strategy. Such a proposal recently was put forth by former Secretary of Defense Gates and General Petraeus, among others.

With immigration at a record high, deficits surging, wages flat-lining, schools overcrowding, crime rising, and terrorism threats increasing, it is time to place priority on protecting the safety of Americans and their financial security. We face a real crisis. The Administration must change its strategy to creating safe-zones and to accelerating actions that can bring the fighting to a close. There is no other solution. The solution is not to have the populations of all the Middle Eastern countries move to Europe and the United States.


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