Daniel Costa of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) criticized a piece I wrote for The Hill in which I called for the U.S. to accept more refugees. Costa took issue for my argument to limit their access to welfare once they arrive, which I wrote in the eighteenth paragraph of my piece. Conservatives criticized me for not mentioning welfare reform sooner in my piece. I wrote about allowing more refugees in for the first seventeen paragraphs of my piece because that is more important than denying them welfare.
Costa, however, stooped pretty low when he wrote: “[H]opefully refugees in America will never be forced to suffer their libertarian version of humanitarian relief.” Emphasis added.
The humanitarian relief that refugees need isn’t food stamps once they arrive to the United States – it’s an escape from violence and oppression. Refugees aren’t fleeing Syria because their Syrian equivalent of TANF benefits expired, they are fleeing because they are being murdered.
Costa assumes my opposition to welfare means that I oppose all support for refugees. That is untrue. As I mention in my original piece, civil society, private charities, churches, previous immigrants, and other groups that do aid refugees are performing a valuable service. That aid is important in helping some, but not all, people who flee war, oppression, and dictatorship to thrive in their new country. That voluntary aid and support should continue and the generous people who donate their own money to such causes are to be commended. But welfare is not charity and it does not alleviate the real scarcity that affects these refugees: a lack of visas for them to come here in the first place.