Resettling Middle Eastern Refugees in US Costs 12 Times as Much as Caring for Them There

Resettling a Middle Eastern immigrant in the United States costs twelve times as much as caring for one Middle Eastern immigrant in a neighboring country.

The Obama administration announced in September they will increase the number of worldwide refugees the United States accepts each year to 100,000 by 2017.

syria isis refugees
Syrian Kurds in Kobane flee the ISIS onslaught.

In just four years, since 2011, half of the Syrian population has been killed, displaced or has fled the country.

The Center for Immigration Studies reported:

Resettlement in the United States for one Middle Eastern refugee costs American taxpayers an estimated $64,370 over the first five years, 12 times the UN estimate for caring for one refugee in a neighboring Middle Eastern country.

This conservative estimate is one of the findings of a new study by the Center for Immigration Studies. The cost of resettlement includes heavy welfare use by Middle Eastern refugees; 91 percent receive food stamps and 68 percent receive cash assistance. Costs also include processing refugees, assistance given to new refugees, and aid to refugee-receiving communities.

Dr. Steven Camarota, the Center’s Director of Research and lead author of the report, commented, “Given limited funds, the high costs of resettling refugees in the United States means that providing for them in neighboring countries in the Middle East is more cost-effective, allowing us to help more people.”

View the entire report at:

Among the findings:

• On average, each Middle Eastern refugee resettled in the United States costs an estimated $64,370 in the first five years, or $257,481 per household.

• The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has requested $1,057 to care for each Syrian refugee annually in most countries neighboring Syria.

• For what it costs to resettle one Middle Eastern refugee in the United States for five years, about 12 refugees can be helped in the Middle East for five years, or 61 refugees can be helped for one year.

• The UNHCR reports a gap of $2.5 billion in funding that it needs to care for approximately four million Syrians in neighboring countries.

• The five-year cost of resettling about 39,000 Syrian refugees in the United States is enough to erase the current UNHCR funding gap.

• Of Middle Eastern refugee households that have arrived in the last 5 years, 91 percent of receive food stamps and 68 percent receive cash welfare.

• The five-year costs of resettlement in the United States include $9,230 spent by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within HHS and the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) within the State Department in the first year, as well as $55,139 in expenditures on welfare and education.

• Very heavy use of welfare programs by Middle Eastern refugees, and the fact that they have only 10.5 years of education on average, makes it likely that it will be many years, if ever, before this population will cease to be a net fiscal drain on public coffers – using more in public services than they pay in taxes.

• It is worth adding that ORR often reports that most refugees are self-sufficient within five years. However, ORR defines “self-sufficiency” as not receiving cash welfare only. A household is still considered “self-sufficient” even if it is using any number of non-cash programs such as food stamps, public housing, or Medicaid.


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