Feds Make It Easy for Refugees to Obtain Welfare Benefits. Jobs, Not So Much

breadline-rotator-600x482With all the strife and chaos in the world, it is understandable that many people want to flee the countries they are living in. Since the mid-1960s, the United States has done more than its fair share to accommodate refugees. Yet with crises erupting across the globe, we simply cannot empty out entire regions and invite them into the country.

This week, the State Department, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Health and Human Services hosted an online webinar directing private agencies that provide services to refugees how to navigate the system and outlining the available benefits.

It turns out that there is a smorgasbord of goodies – everything that U. S. citizens are eligible for, including help getting mortgages. Around 140,000 refugees and asylees arrive in the United States each year, including Unaccompanied Alien Minors, people from Cuba and Haiti, certified victims of human trafficking and special visa holders from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Earning this status is like winning the lottery. Federal, state and local governments ensure that refugees get housing, furniture, clothing, food and pocket money immediately upon arrival, which is understandable, since many of these people came from privation and have suffered. If they have children, they are eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which expanded Medicaid.

It is a great idea to give them a health screenings, since 20 percent of all refugees coming to Minnesota tested positive for tuberculosis. They also get Social Security cards, entrepreneurial training, English language services, help with enrolling their children in school and assistance for these children to transition to school, all for a $283.5 million federal outlay in FY2016, a sum that the private partners must match.

Though the stated goal is for all refugees to achieve economic self-sustainability through employment, offering so many immediate services often fosters a culture of entitlement and removes the incentive to become a self-sufficient member of society.

As soon as a refugee lands in the United States, social services – some of which time out – kick in. There are nine resettlement agencies operating in 185 communities. The Office of Refugee Resettlement’s Refugee Assistance Program attempts to get their charges signed up for welfare within a week and encourages older, disabled people to register for Social Security so that they can get benefits, even though they have never put a dime into the system.

The major programs include food stamps, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income. During the webinar, one government official crowed about the expansion of Medicaid beyond children under Obamacare. Then there’s education, child-care and transportation assistance.

In the webinar presentation, helping refugees find employment seemed to be a lesser priority, though one official claimed that 76 percent of all clients reached economic self-sufficiency within 180 days of arrival. But refugees use social services in large proportions and students with Limited English Proficiency generally make slow progress, so the path to upward mobility has some obstacles. Consider this: if the refugees speak little English and possess few skills, how are they going to integrate into society and find meaningful, well-paid work?

Giving away a raft of handouts creates pliable, government-dependent populations and does little to ensure that new refugees will strike out on their own by using their skills and talents to benefit society and themselves.

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Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar

    In an overpopulated world of 7 billion people headed towards 11 billion and a US govt approaching 20 trillion dollars in debt, the idea that we have the environmental resources, money, jobs, etc. to bring every person on the planet with problems into our country is absurd. It is not the responsibility of the US and its citizens to solve all of the problems of every human being on the planet.

  2. avatar

    NO since the 60’s…..from the beginnings..the same principle form the 1600’s….you were born unfortunate ..you stayed that way..you work hard you can have the American Dream…..Capt. John Smith

    • avatar

      but I agree with the article that refugees are treated better than our own in need,

    • avatar

      American leaders destroyed the governments and infrastructure in various Middle Eastern countries, creating power vacuums, chaos, civil war, and huge numbers of refugees. If our power mad leaders in DC stopped destroying foreign countries there would be fewer refugees.

      Our govt says we have to destroy foreign countries to prevent terrorism, then says we have to bring in refugees created by these wars. But they been infiltrated by terrorists who want to carry out attacks in US. Does this make sense?

      • avatar

        I think the real problem is that Muslim societies don’t seem to be able to govern themselves without a dictator, whether it’s a secular or religious one. And so many of those countries, even if they are a thousand miles away from Israel, spend an inordinate amount of time blaming things on that country instead of improving their own societies.

        Saddam was a brutal dictator, no doubt. And if it were as simple as removing him and democracy flowers [aka the Arab spring], that would have been great. But it wasn’t the relatively quick US invasion that made the situation in Iraq so bad. It was the endless fighting and ethnic cleansing afterward that went on between the Sunni and Shia Muslims, which they have done for centuries. The Iraqis killed in the invasion were a small number compared to what they have done to themselves since. It should be a rich country with all their oil but it just feeds the corruption.

        That is why I opposed going into Iraq. I thought that was exactly what would happen. We would get caught in the middle of their never ending feuds and wars. It’s the same naive belief that said get rid of Khadaffi and Libya’s fine. It didn’t happen and it’s never going to until they figure out how to rule themselves. Our problem is that we have people like Hillary, and a fair amount of Republicans, chant the “Islam is a religion of peace” mantra. How in the world can any religion be one of “peace” when significant percentages, even majorities in some countries, think death is the punishment for leaving Islam. Stone age nonsense, that needs to be called out.

        • avatar

          I agree with you Leland, in summary we have to apply freedom outside our borders which in this case it meant to let that country be..they have their own way of life.

        • avatar

          True but there is no reason our leaders should not know what will happen in these countries when they remove these dictators. They have access to experts on the history of the region, if they wanted to listen to them, who can tell them exactly what will happen in these countries, the civil wars, the refugees created, etc. as a result of their military actions.

          For some reason, after years of failures, our foreign policy establishment still thinks Middle Eastern countries are like Germany after World War 2 and can be rebuilt into Western style, stable democracies. Then they say we have to bring in the refugees created by their stupid wars that have been infiltrated by terrorists.

          If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then the US foreign policy establishment is insane. But then life in DC would be too boring if there wasn’t always a war to fight.

          • avatar

            Correct. That’s why I said there was this naive belief that we just get rid of these dictators and democracy will take hold. Not in these countries that can’t seem to move beyond the 15th century culturally. Which is why Trump is right about them coming here.

          • avatar

            I agree with you Leland but Trump is like Saddam Hussein but the American version……