“The Fiscal Cost of Resettling Refugees in the United States” says that U.S. taxpayers spend roughly $80,000 per year per refugee resettled in the U.S.: “The cost per refugee to American taxpayers just under $79,600 every year in the first five years after a refugee is resettled in the U.S.” Demonstrating American commitment to innumeracy and illiteracy, the authors later say “This totals $15,900 per refugee, annually, or just under $79,600 per refugee over their first five years in America.” So they’ve calculated the cost… to within a factor of 5X.
If we assume the refugees arrive, on average, in a family of 4, that’s $320,000 per family per year at the high end of the article’s estimate. That’s $6,154 per week. The Club Med web site shows that typical prices in Caribbean or Mexico are about $125 per night per adult or about $4,300 per week for two adults and two older kids. For Muslim refugees who might prefer an Islamic environment (do they really want to read about Erica Garza and her lifestyle choices, hang out with opioid addicts, or put their children at risk in the society where kids are least likely to have two parents?), Club Meds in Morocco, Tunisia, and Senegal are available for about 20 percent less.
For refugees who don’t want to swim, windsurf, snorkel, and play tennis at the same resort year after year, Carnival offers cruises for $59 per day per person. Even if there is no discount for children, that’s $86,140 for a year for a family of four. In other words, for a given budgeted amount, it looks as though roughly 4X as many refugees could be rescued by putting them on cruise ships rather than bringing them into the U.S. to live?
Is it obvious that a permanent vacation is better than a standard American lifestyle? The same report says that “approximately 54 percent of all refugees will hold jobs that pay less than $11 an hour” (presumably this is limited to those refugees who actually do work). Low-wage jobs actually are worse for mental health than being unemployed. (Atlantic)
So… even if there were no discount for long-term vacations, taking the higher estimate of cost from the article, both refugees and the U.S. taxpayer would be better off financially and emotionally if refugees were given lifetime vacations at all-inclusive resorts and on all-inclusive cruise ships rather than being settled in the U.S.
What about at the low end of the article’s estimate? What if a refugee family of four costs only $63,600 per year in taxpayer cash? That’s not enough for Club Med and not quite enough for permanent Carnival cruising, absent a discount for buying five-year blocks. On the other hand, there are plenty wonderful countries for tourism where budget travel for a family of four costs less than $63,600. A refugee family could be on a permanent holiday in Thailand, for example, for about $24,000 per year ($18,000 per year is the estimate for a “couple” in budgetyourtrip.com).
(Note that I think that any estimate of the cost of immigration understates the true costs. The U.S. is incapable of building new infrastructure. Therefore the result of larger population is traffic jams, delayed or packed-beyond-useful public transport, etc. Americans lost 6.9 billion hours and $160 billion (ABC) from traffic jams in 2014, and trashed the planet by burning up an extra 3 billion gallons of fuel. See How much would an immigrant have to earn to defray the cost of added infrastructure?)
Potential issues: the cited report lumps together “refugees” and “asylees” such as the Tsarnaev brothers. (the Tsarnaevs collected welfare in Massachusetts, e.g., housing subsidies to live in Cambridge, otherwise one of America’s most expensive places to live, while hunting down the un-Islamic in Waltham and planning jihad); the report tracks the welfare consumption of refugees/asylees over a 5-year period and therefore we don’t know if they all decided to leave public housing, pay full price for health insurance, shop for food without an EBT, etc., starting in Year 6.
- “FEMA Contract Called for 30 Million Meals for Puerto Ricans. 50,000 Were Delivered.” (nytimes), in which the government awarded a $156 million contract to a company with one employee.