In 2015, Steven Camarota published a report making the argument that helping refugees in their home regions would be more cost effective than resettling them, claiming that the cost of resettling refugees from Middle Eastern countries would cost $64,370 over five years. Recently, during his remarks to the UN General Assembly in September 2017, President Trump reiterated those numbers, saying, “For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region.”
Like he often does, Camarota ignores data that doesn’t support his findings, focusing only on the cost of resettlement and not the economic benefits. If he had looked at the bigger picture, he would’ve seen a study by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that found refugees brought in $63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost. Also, in that same report, HHS calculated numbers for all refugees, as opposed to CIS’ usage of data for Middle Eastern refugees. The New York Times reports that Senior Advisor Stephen Miller and CIS ally, in writing the president’s remarks, rejected these findings and instead pushed the narrative that refugees are a drain to our economy.
First of all, to compare the costs of resettling a refugee in the US to caring for that person in a broken state like Syria is like comparing, well, apples to elephants; they are completely different outcomes.