Politifact: There is no way to get at the true cost of resettling refugees in the US

This is a story I missed in September right after the President spoke at the UN General Assembly.  Thanks to reader Brenda for sending it our way.

Trump at UN

We know this is true and it has been frustrating over the years when I’ve been unable to tell readers exactly what it does cost the US and state/local taxpayers per refugee placed (secretly!) in your towns and cities.

Recently you have seen a spate of reports about how refugees financially benefit America—the truth is they are deceiving the public because no one really knows the true cost of refugees’ admission to the US, their resettlement and their use of public services for which, unlike other categories of legal immigration, they are eligible upon arrival.

The best case was made by the Center for Immigration Studies in a study we reported and Politifact mentions below.

Before I tell you what Politifact says, see this post I wrote a month ago about researchers at the University of Utah troubled by this same fact—no one is keeping records on the cost of resettlement in any usable format.

To see what I mean locally, call your local Social Services agency, your school board, your court system or hospital (interpreter costs) and ask how much is it costing per year for each refugee in their system.  This is the response you will likely find in most locations: we don’t have users of our system characterized by immigration status.

But, you know who does know—your local resettlement contractor.

However, I’ll bet a buck they won’t tell you how many students they have placed in your local school system or how many of their refugees are signed up at your local social service agency.

Here is what Politifact found:

They couldn’t get at the true cost of the US Refugee Admissions Program either!  LOL and when I went to their whole list of meters for Trump, this story is missing from the list! No meter, so story is difficult to find!

Politifact opens with President Trump speaking at the UN and you know they were hoping to nail him with a “pants on fire’ meter.  They failed.

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Politfact doesn’t give Trump’s UN remarks a rating because even they realized the USRAP is so opaque, so lacking in transparency, that the numbers cannot be found.

“For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region,” Trump said. “Out of the goodness of our hearts, we offer financial assistance to hosting countries in the region, and we support recent agreements of the G-20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible. This is the safe, responsible and humanitarian approach.”

We wondered about the accuracy of Trump’s claim that what’s spent on resettling one refugee in the United States could be used to help more than 10 refugees in their home region. We found the on-the-ground reality of aid to refugees to be so complex that it’s not possible to prove or disprove Trump’s statement.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS), for example, told us that many mainstream programs and federal departments offer aid to refugees, and that makes an overall per-capita cost estimate impossible to calculate.  [No kidding! Use USA Spending.gov and you will find money going to the refugee program from the Dept. of Agriculture and the Justice Dept. just to name two that you might not have thought of!—ed]


Given the complexity of the calculations, we won’t put this claim on the Truth-O-Meter.


Where is Congress? Don’t you lazy lunks care how much this program is costing America?  How about some standardized reporting practices on the costs.

As for costs, the State Department reported that in fiscal year 2016 it spent nearly $545 million on the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program — that accounts for processing, transportation, reception and placement costs. (An expert told us refugees have to repay the full cost of their travel tickets, usually within two years.***)

About $1.6 billion in fiscal year 2016 went to Refugee and Entrant Assistance, administered by the Office of Refugee Resettlement within HHS. Refugee and Entrant Assistance funds programs that help refugees, asylees, Cuban and Haitian entrants, survivors of torture, Special Immigrant Visa holders, trafficking victims as well as unaccompanied children who were apprehended by immigration officials and are waiting for a resolution of their immigration case.

About $697 million of Refugee and Entrant Assistance’s 2016 budget went to resettlement services, according to Refugee Council USA, a coalition of non-governmental organizations that help refugees. [Here they are using information from the recipients of the government largess, hardly an impartial source!—a source that hired the Podesta Group to get them more government money!—ed]


So how much is spent per refugee resettlement? That’s not clear.

Do you hear that Welcoming America, a community organizing group parading economic studies around the country! You don’t know either what it costs taxpayers for this program, so you can’t say there is a net benefit to the economy!

Politifact continues….

“The amount and type of federal assistance provided to a refugee during his or her period of eligibility can vary greatly,” said Victoria A. Palmer, HHS spokeswoman. “Additionally, cash and medical assistance are administered at the state level, and the state cost-sharing amounts vary significantly from state to state.” [It is our contention that this cost-shifting is illegal! Where are you Congress?—ed]


A November 2015 study from the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors low immigration levels, found a $64,370 cost to taxpayers per refugee from the Middle East over the course of the refugee’s first five years in the United States.

“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 study said.

The five-year resettlement estimate includes expenses incurred by offices within HHS and the State Department, plus welfare and education costs, the center reported. The estimates are based on 2013 figures.

“It should be clear that what drives these costs are the initial expenditures by (Office and Refugee Resettlement) and (Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration) and the very high use of welfare by Middle Eastern refugees,” the CIS report said.

More here.

*** This travel loan statement from an “expert” is bogus.  Yes, some refugees pay back their travel loans and others don’t.  There is no legal force applied.  The VOLAGs (the contractors) just tell refugees that their credit rating will stink (yes, sure, someone who has lived in an African refugee camp understands that!) if not repaid.

The real truth is that the contractors listed below try to extract the travel loan repayment from the impoverished refugees and then keep a cut for themselves.

See that the USCCB wrung $3 million out of refugees in one year, see my previous postThis is your money, and if refugees pay back travel loans, all of it should return to the US Treasury.  Where are you Congress?

US Conference of Catholic Bishops not happy with the President

So what else is new. 

The USCCB, as readers know, is one of the nine major federal resettlement contractors*** that is being financially hurt by the slowdown in the refugee flow to Your Town, USA.

But, they never tell the public that piece of important information when they wail about federal refugee policy changes. I recently joked that until one of their news items tells the public the whole truth, I would keep writing about their taxpayer-supplied millions of dollars!

Of course they are not happy with President Trump now because he removed the US from that ‘nothing burger’ UN compact I told you about here.  

When that compact was formed in September of 2016, on the margins of the UN General Assembly at an Obama-organized show, organizers were disappointed at a toothless and wishy-washy response by western countries.  That is not to say it wouldn’t have turned in to something after follow-up meetings, but was in truth nothing more than symbolic.

But, you see it gives the Religious Left, like the Bishops, a reason to bash Trump now.

From Crux:

NEW YORK – Following the announcement last Saturday by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the United States would no longer participate in the development of a Global Compact on Migration, U.S. Catholic bishops and migration experts denounced the decision and urged the Trump administration to reconsider its position.

bill O'keefe 1
Catholic lobbyist O’Keefe. Do taxpayers ‘contribute’ to his salary?

The Compact was an outcome goal of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which the U.S. participated in during a United Nations summit in September 2016.

“We simply cannot in good faith support a process that could undermine the sovereign right of the United States to enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders,” said Tillerson.

In response, the U.S. bishops said the decision is counterproductive to the country’s safety efforts and violates key tenets of Catholic social teaching.

Bishop Joe E. Vásquez, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, said that while the Church teaches that every country has a right to secure its own borders, “the Church has long articulated that it is the obligation of nations to assure human rights for all migrants and special protections for vulnerable migrants, such as refugees, forced migrants, victims of human trafficking, and women and children at risk.”

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The Bishops and O’Keefe have every right to lobby on everything under the sun (including global warming). They can bash the Prez all they want, but if I were the President I would be cutting off their federal funding! Separation of church and state after all! Let them do their lobbying and their “good works” with private funding!

How many of your tax dollars help pay this Catholic lobbyist’s salary?

In an interview with Crux, Bill O’Keefe, vice president for government relations and advocacy for Catholic Relief Services, said Catholics of all political persuasions should support the effort of the Global Compact.

If you are a Catholic of a different “political persuasion” speak up in your local parish!

And, now for new readers (longtime readers can stop here!) because I am going to post this every time I see them whining and moaning about refugee policy, but never mentioning their pecuniary interest.

From my post last July…

The Bishops Migration Fund was 97% taxpayer-funded according to a 2014 annual report for their Migration Fund and I doubt the percentage has changed much in recent years.

The Bishops don’t file a Form 990 and their operations are so vast, I could spend the whole day and still not sort it out.  Also, maybe you can find one, but I have not found an annual report for their refugee program since I found this one for 2014.

So we will have to rely on it (again). Keep in mind these funds for their refugee resettlement program do not include millions that go directly from the feds to some individual Catholic Charities and Dioceses around the US. (If you are researching your local CC or Dioceses, you can often find good numbers at USASpending.gov)

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US Treasury dollars circled in red. Travel loan collection fees is your money too! Do you see what a tiny bit of money is privately given which says to me that the average practicing Catholic is not supporting their migration program.


***These are the nine federal resettlement contractors paid by you to place refugees in your towns and cities. The USCCB places the largest number so they are really feeling the financial pinch as the President has reduced the flow of paying clients (aka refugees).  These middlemen, get paid by the head for their ‘charitable good works,’ so they have no incentive to ever see a reduction in numbers.