Federal money allocated to provide cash and medical assistance to refugees legally residing in the United States will top $500 million if Congress passes the Obama administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2017.
As part of President Barack Obama’s final budget proposal, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources (HHS), asked Congress in February to appropriate $581 million for Transitional and Medical Services between October 1, 2016, and September 30, 2017, in ACF’s “Justification of Estimates for Appropriations Committee.”
The requested amount reflects a $91.4 million increase in addition to the $490 million enacted for those services in FY 2016, and it constitutes almost 27 percent of the $2.18 billion ACF requested for “Refugee and Entrant Assistance” in FY 2017.
$64,000 per Refugee
Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, says resettling refugees is a long-term expense.
“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,” Camarota wrote in a November 2015 analysis coauthored by CIS Demographer Karen Zeigler.
“You can spend $1 billion, $2 billion, $5 billion, $10 billion a year on refugees,” Camarota told Health Care News. “Even if a very large group of refugees becomes self-sufficient, it is always going to be costly. The real question is whether or not this is the most effective use of money and are we encouraging dependency.”
The United States admitted 69,933 refugees in 2015 from all regions, the U.S. State Department reports.
Hospitals and Clinics Pay
Linda Gorman, director of the Health Care Policy Center at the Independence Institute, says the national government’s mishandling of immigration policy places an unsustainable burden on health care providers.
“Basically, the federal government’s refusal to enforce immigration law is imposing all kinds of costs on hospitals and clinics,” Gorman said. “Open borders and a welfare state is not a stable long-term equilibrium.”
Michael McGrady ([email protected]) writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Steven A. Camarota and Karen Zeigler, “The High Cost of Resettling Middle Eastern Refugees,” Backgrounder, Center for Immigration Studies, November 2015: https://www.heartland.org/policy-documents/high-cost-resettling-middle-eastern-refugees
“Justification of Estimates for Appropriations Committees,” Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, February 2016: https://www.heartland.org/policy-documents/justification-estimates-appropriations-committees-acf-fiscal-year-2017