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Answer to the comment: "I love child refugees too, but ... "

This paper is my reaction to  friends who have told me: “I love all children too … but, child refugees have to go.”



My first thought, of course, is “Go where?” There is no place really, for them to go. But aside from that, I want to address the concerns that my friends have expressed to me.

For example, one friend asked: “This country is having a hard enough time covering the costs of providing welfare, food stamps, etc. to current legal citizens, so what magic pot of money do people like you plan to pull money out of to support all of these thousands of refugees for those services, probably for years to come?”

This was really several questions. Please allow me to rephrase them in this manner:

  1. Won't child refugees burden taxpayers with new costs for food stamps and welfare?
  2. Don't immigrants cost more than what they generate back to government in taxes?
  3. But won't there be an immediate cost that will translate to higher taxes for me? Won't my taxes triple?
  4. What financial resources are available to pay for a child refugee program? (Where will we find the money?)



Question 1: Will accepting child refugees raise the cost for food stamps and welfare and burden the welfare system?

Answer: Not to the extent that many people think

As noted in the Government Accounting Offices' analysis of the impact of immigration in California, “Illegal aliens are not eligible for most federal benefit programs, including Supplemental Security Income, Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC), food stamps, unemployment compensation, and financial assistance for higher education.”

However, they may receive certain benefits that do not require legal immigration status as a condition of eligibility, such as Head Start and the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children.   Furthermore, illegal aliens may apply for AFDC and food stamps on behalf of their U.S. citizen children.

Furthermore, 56 percent of the child refugees are released to family members who are already here in the United States, so they do have safety nets in many or most cases.

Question 2: Won't these children become a tax burden?

We can only project from past experiences with immigration, so please let me rephrase question this way: “Do immigrants cost more than what they generate in taxes and economic growth?”

Answer: In the long term, “No, they generally do not become a tax burden.”

As  counter-intuitive as it may seem to many people, our immigrants have typically generated more income for government than what we have expended for social  costs.

As reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2007, for one example:

 Over the prior 10 years, Latino immigrants had cost the North Carolina $61 million in a variety of benefits — but were responsible for more than $9 billion in state economic growth. The same point was made in a 1997 National Academy of Sciences study that found "the less-educated immigrants who impose a fiscal burden are the very same immigrants who provide the economic benefit reported."

“If Mexicans were taller and whiter,” University of California, Berkeley, professor David Card told the magazine, "it would probably be a lot easier" for the public to accept the majority view of economists that the net effects of immigration, which is now predominantly Latino, are positive.

For another, in-depth report see the following link from Arizona: http://www.wmich.edu/hhs/newsletters_journals/jssw_institutional/institutional_subscribers/39.4.Becerra.pdf, .

Question 3: Won't my taxes triple or quadruple?

Short answer: No. Not even close.

This is a most interesting question that I would love to delve into in another post if I have time, but the amount of tax money that would be generated by tripling taxes would be astronomical. A social workers dream, let's say, but watch out for the Defense Department, as Buck McKeon would be grasping for at least half of that increase for more and more war machinery. But no. Not in your wildest dreams.

Well, this research is time consuming so I am going to cut it short but I could go on for days and days, but the research time is short. I have a guitar lesson to go to soon. Much more fun, I might add.

Question 4 is perhaps the most interesting question, but it will have to wait until I get back. I need to go practice now for the lesson.

#refugees #child_refugees #Lockwood

About me, Frank Ellsworth Lockwood 
  • Retired public school resource room specialist 
  • Fifteen years direct experience working with immigrant children. 
  • Washington certified former public school teacher
  • Education MS in Education from Eastern Oregon State Universtity
  • Master's project topic: Reading styles of limited English proficient children

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