America’s big heart in welcoming tens of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers from war torn and disaster-ravaged nations comes with a huge cost that is choking taxpayers — and barely making a dent in the worldwide refugee crisis, according to a new report.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform Monday put the five-year price tag at $8.8 billion in federal and state costs, or nearly $80,000 per refugee. There are some 18 federal and state programs refugees can tap for financial help, including food stamps, child care, public housing and school loans.

On a yearly average, it is $1.8 billion, or $15,900 per refugee. Included in that are enormous refugee resettlement costs such as $867 million in welfare, housing assistance and education.

That is nearly five times the pay for a private in the Army Reserve.

What’s more, said the FAIR study provided to Secrets, 50 percent of refugees remain on Medicaid for five years.

“Most of this cohort arrives here without financial resources and possessing few marketable job skills. And the American taxpayer is being asked to feed, clothe and shelter them, in addition to funding job training programs,” said the report titled “The Fiscal Cost of Resettling Refugees in the United States.

Dan Stein, president of the immigration reform group, said an alternative should be providing temporary help near where the refugees live and eventually repatriating them.

The study of Office of Refugee Resettlement and other data is one of the most extensive done on the costs of refugees. It notes that despite the high costs, the U.S. only helps a tiny percentage of those seeking refugee.

With the U.S accepting lower refugee numbers under President Trump, who has set a cap of about 45,000 a year, there are still millions in need. FAIR said there is a population of some 65 million refugees in the world.

The U.S. has admitted over 3.5 million people since 1980 and 96,900 refugees just in the last year in 2016.

“Unlike immigration policy — where the objective should be to admit people who are most likely to contribute — refugee and asylum admissions are humanitarian programs and we accept that there will be costs associated. The U.S. must remain committed to its role as a world leader in helping refugees, but we must also recognize that relocating refugees to this country is by far the most expensive alternative, and a financial commitment that lasts decades or more,” said Stein.

The FAIR study also looked at how refugees make out once they settle into the United States, and found that on average they earn about $11 an hour after five years, producing far less in income tax than services to them cost.

FAIR’s Numbers:

  • 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.
  • In 2016, the State Department spent nearly $545 million to process and resettle refugees, including $140,389,177 on transportation costs.
  • Of the $1.8 billion in resettlement costs, $867 billion was spent on welfare alone.
  • In their first five years, approximately 54 percent of all refugees will hold jobs that pay less than $11 an hour.
  • $71 million will be spent to educate refugees and asylum-seekers, a majority of which will be paid by state and local governments.
  • Over five years, an estimated 15.7 percent of all refugees will need housing assistance, which is roughly $7,600 per household in 2014 dollars.

Stein added that refugees also put new national security and public safety costs on to taxpayers.

“We are entering an era in which resettlement in the United States or other nations is simply inadequate to address the displacement of people due to conflict, overpopulation, environmental disasters, or the collapse of civil societies in many countries. Instead, the international emphasis will have to be on providing temporary refuge and protection in or near people’s homes with the goal of safely repatriating them,” Stein said.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at