immigration; refugees; asylum; asylees; legal immigrants; legal immigration; assimilation; fiscal effects; welfare; medicaid

Encouraging Findings of the Trump Administration’s Report on Refugees and Asylees

In July 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) produced the first rigorous accounting of the fiscal effects of refugees and asylees to the United States. The study gives the best insight so far into the economic assimilation of U.S. refugees into their adopted country. While the White House prohibited the official release of the report for political reasons, the New York Times in September 2017 obtained a copy of the draft. This post summarizes the report’s main findings:

  • While refugee and asylee high school graduation rates are lower than all U.S. adults, refugee and asylee college graduation rates are slightly higher.
  • Adult refugee and asylee full-time employment grows over time to be slightly higher than all U.S. adults.
  • Refugee and asylee poverty declines over time to be only 1 percentage point higher than all U.S. families.
  • Refugee and asylee median family income almost doubles over time from $32,539 to $59,433, virtually identical to the U.S. average.
  • Refugee and asylee Medicaid-CHIP participation rate halves over time to be only 1 percentage point higher than the U.S. population.
  • The U.S. refugee and asylee population paid $63 billion more in taxes than they received in benefits to all levels of government from 2005 to 2014.
  • The per capita annual net fiscal effect of each refugee or asylee was positive $2,205 compared to a national average of $1,848 from 2005 to 2014.
  • Refugees and asylees had a more positive fiscal effect because 81 percent were in their prime working years compared to just 63 percent of the U.S. population overall.
  • Refugee fiscal benefits were more than twice as great during years when the economy was growing quickly compared to the recession years.
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