Local and state taxpayers do contribute to refugee welfare
Posted by Ann Corcoran on February 29, 2016
Over and over again we hear from political leaders and grassroots organizers looking to bring refugees into new (unsuspecting) communities that this is a federal program funded by the feds. (LOL! as if Washington has an orchard of money trees!)
However, this short model letter-to-the-editor in Tennessee quickly dispels the notion that the resettlement of refugees in your town will cost you nothing.
The letter, by Don Barnett of Nashville, is in response to the debate on-going in the State Legislature which we reported recently, here. Tennessee is a Wilson-Fish state (a state where a federal contractor, Catholic Charities of TN, is making decisions for the state taxpayers with no accountability to those elected to protect the state’s purse).
Barnett in The Tennessean (emphasis is mine):
The reporting on Senate Joint Resolution 467 is proof that, at the very least, something must be done to bring the refugee resettlement program out of the shadows.
So misunderstood and secretive is the program that contractors who profit from it are able to make blatantly false statements and be assured they will be reported as fact.
According to Tennessee’s state refugee coordinator, who is an employee of the main federal resettlement contractor, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the program does not cost state taxpayers a dime.
But the contractors refuse to publicize the number of refugees they place into TennCare, a program paid for by state taxpayers as well as federal taxpayers. The last time they released this data, 2011, nearly 60 percent of refugees went into TennCare upon arrival.
The 2011 report of TennCare usage is consistent with national trends. According to the latest data available — a federal study of refugees who had been in the country five years or less as of 2013*** — 47 percent of refugees were dependent on cash assistance, 74 percent were in the food stamp program, and 56 percent were in Medicaid (TennCare) or short-term federal refugee medical assistance. Twenty-three percent were in public housing or receiving public housing assistance.
There is considerable evidence pointing to long-term dependence. The federal cash welfare program SSI is a good indicator of long-term welfare dependency rates. It is generally a lifetime entitlement and usually automatically includes Medicaid and other social services. The federal study of arrivals over the previous five years found that 21 percent of refugee families had one or more members receiving SSI.
For refugees from the Middle East, 91 percent of this population was on food stamps and 32 percent of families from this group had one or more members on SSI.
Is there really no cost to the state? And what about those costs to the federal government?
This is a letter you should use as a model where you live. Not mentioned by Barnett are the costs to local and state taxpayers to educate the children and the costs to the criminal justice system (for even minor legal infractions involving court interpreters).
***The report referenced here is the Office of Refugee Resettlement Annual Report to Congress for 2013. You can find all of the very useful reports (as of today) through 2013, here. But once again, the ORR is breaking the law! As of January 31, 2016 they are TWO years behind in sending reports to Congress.
Where are the reports?
In December, Senator Jeff Sessions and Rep. Marsha Blackburn sent a letter to ORR wanting them to deliver the 2014 report, see here. And, since reports to Congress are legally required to be delivered 3 months after the close of the fiscal year, ORR should now be providing the report for 2015 as well. Are they hiding something at ORR or is it just sheer incompetence and mismanagement? It certainly looks like a (excuse the expression) middle finger to Congress.
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