Wyoming is Last Holdout on Refugee Resettlement

Published on April 10th, 2014

Wyoming is the last of the 50 U.S. states holding out on refugee resettlement. The federal refugee program has long been a thorn in the side of organizations that want to limit immigration to sensible levels and, at the same time, eliminate fraud from worthwhile existing immigration programs.

Since 1975, the United States has resettled more than 3 million refugees with annual admissions ranging from a high of 207,000 in 1980 to a low of 27,110 in 2002 after 9/11’s aftermath. The average number of refugees admitted annually since 1980 is about 98,000. In recent years, about 40,000 more entered annually as asylum seekers and Cuban/Haitian entrants. All can apply for legal permanent residency status within a year and are work authorized.

In his Wyoming Star Tribune op-ed, Center for Immigration Studies fellow and longtime refugee analyst Don Barnett wrote about many of the under-reported and outrageous facts concerning refugee resettlement.

Barnett noted that according to a Government Accountability Office study of refugees who have lived in the U.S. five years or less, in 2010 their unemployment rate was 21 percent compared with 9 percent for non-refugees. Twenty-six percent were dependent on cash assistance; 63 percent received food stamps, and 48 percent were on Medicaid or partook in the short-term federal Refugee Medical Assistance.

Somali Refugees in Shelbyville, Tennessee

Refugees have accessed Supplemental Security Income, a lifetime entitlement and a sound indicator of continued welfare dependency, at 11.6 percent average over the previous five years, about 2.5 times the national average. Federal taxpayers absorb these costs, but programs such as Medicaid impose additional state taxes.

Interestingly, although the State Department can pick where refugees ultimately live, few are assigned to Washington D.C. where immigration policies are written or to Delaware, Vice President Joe Biden’s home. Between 2007 and 2012, D.C. took in 300 refugees. Similarly in Delaware, only 10 have been admitted in recent years. In 1980, Biden cosponsored the Refugee Act. Refugees brought to the U.S. as part of the resettlement program have struggled to assimilate in New Hampshire, Nashville, Lewiston, Maine and Illinois.

Although the U.S. takes more than twice as many refugees as all countries from the rest of the industrialized world combined, it cannot save the world. A more logical approach to helping refugees would be to place them in countries closer to their native lands that have similar customs and repatriate them at the first opportunity.

Refugee resettlement operates almost completely beneath the radar and, through chain migration, represents one of the leading contributors to overpopulation. Petitions for family members can eventually increase the original admission totals by a factor of four or more.

Read Barnett’s column here for his complete refugee scandal analysis.

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