US can’t afford to relocate Syrian refugees


Every hour the news is full of personal accounts from refugees, detailing the almost impossible search for a better life. Middle Eastern refugees surge in like a tsunami, crashing against border patrols and immigration officials of many European countries. Yet, unlike a tsunami, the tide seems to have no inclination of flowing back. Many countries, specifically Syria, are going through a crisis as they continue to lose citizens. The combination of civil war and the invasion of ISIS has been too much for many Syrians, as they flee towards Turkey, Greece, and the rest of the EU.

But when they get there, countries are faced with a question. Should they accept Syrian refugees and the costs that they entail, or keep them out of the country and let others deal with them. The 1951 Refugee Convention makes this hard for European countries, as they can’t force a refugee back into danger. But due to the vast distance between Syria and America, only a couple hundred Syrian refugees have made it to the US and applied for shelter .

So should the U.S. begin shipping in Syrian refugees from Europe and resettle them in America? The short answer is no. The most important thing to consider is costs. According to the International Business Times, the 70,000 refugees the U.S. took in last year cost around $1.1 billion. But that number only considers the first year of a refugee’s life in America, and resettling is much more expensive than simply keeping refugees safe. According to the American Immigration Council, the government must supply food, shelter and other necessary services for 90 days. But the refugee process doesn’t stop there, and can last up to four years and involves learning English, renting a home and finding a job.

This isn’t even considering the costs of vetting every refugee to confirm that they represent no danger to National Security. The U.S. has traditionally had less than perfect restraint when it comes to national security, as the Patriot Act shows, and it would not be surprising if many refugees were sent back to Syria because of perceived dangers.

The money Congress used to relocate these Syrians could be better spent in a variety of ways. For example, the funds could be used to form safer refugee camps in Turkey. Or fund humanitarian efforts in Syria. At the end of the day the only reason to transport a massive influx of Syrian immigrants to the U.S. is so we can feel better. And to me, moral superiority is a second place prize to saving lives.