The High Price of Refugees

Study finds that each refugee the U.S. accepts costs between $60K and $133K.

Thomas Gallatin · Mar. 12, 2020

It costs American taxpayers between $60,000 and $133,000 for every refugee the U.S. accepts, says a new study from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). According to the study, the “best estimate of the average refugee’s lifetime fiscal cost, expressed as a net present value, is $60,000, with those entering as adults (ages 25 to 64) costing $133,000 each.”

The study further noted that “earlier generations [of refugees] were often well educated” compared to many of today’s refugees who therefore have lower earning power, which in turn results in a higher cost to the American taxpayer. “Why is education relevant?” ask the CIS authors. “Because under the U.S. government’s progressive taxation and spending structure, high-earning Americans tend to receive less in public benefits than they pay in taxes, while lower-earners receive benefits that exceed the taxes they contribute. Given their low education levels, today’s refugees are unlikely to possess the earning power necessary to become net fiscal contributors. This is not a reflection of their character; it is simply a reality of economic life in the United States. In fact, common sense tells us that the public sector would not be struggling every year with budget deficits if even its least-educated citizens were somehow paying their own way.”

By almost any metric America is one of the most generous nations on the planet. But that generosity should only be legitimately measured by how many Americans give freely out of their own volition, not based upon the government redistributing tax dollars. That the government welcomes legitimate refugees is a good thing, but it should not come at the expense of taking care of its own citizens.

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