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Waste of the Day: Refugee Assistance Cost Taxpayers $20 Billion In Two Years

February 06, 2024

Topline: The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement spent $20 billion over the last two years on “refugee and entrant assistance” for those entering the country legally or illegally, according to a report from OpenTheBooks.com.

Services included legal assistance, medical screening, housing assistance, cultural orientation, work authorization, public benefits application, school enrollment, mental health services, cash support and Medicaid access. The spending represents an increase of billions of dollars over previous years and includes potential conflicts of interest with the agency’s director.

Open the Books
Waste of the Day 2.06.24

Key facts: The office, a program of the Administration of Children and Families, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, drastically increased its discretionary grant spending over the last two years, contributing to the $20 billion price tag. The agency awarded only $500 million in grants from 2013-2021 but spent over $1 billion on grants in the past two years alone.

Grants were also sent out through programs like the Individual Development Accounts, which helps immigrants build their credit scores, start a business or save for large purchases like a house.

Parent agency Administration of Children and Families received $2.9 billion to support Afghani entrants just in 2022, while Ukrainian refugees needed $2.7 billion in support over the last two years.

OpenTheBooks also found potential conflicts of interest within Office of Refugee Resettlement spending.

Robin Dunn Marcos took over as program director in September 2022 following eight years of work with the non-profit International Rescue Committee.

That organization received just $22 million from the Office of Refugee Resettlement in 2021. But after Dunn Marcos became director, her former employer received $235 million in grants in 2023.

A government spokesperson said Dunn Marcos is currently recused from all matters involving the International Rescue Committee, but the recusal will end in September of this year.

Background: The financial burden resulted in part from a record 2.5 million migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border last year. 

During the past two years, roughly 260,000 unaccompanied children also arrived in the U.S. and 85,000 of those children are “lost” in the system. Support for unaccompanied children cost taxpayers $13 billion from 2012 to 2022, OpenTheBooks previously reported.

Summary: The Office of Refugee Resettlement represents just one small piece of U.S. spending on legal and illegal immigration. However, new arrivals in the country show no signs of slowing down, and neither does the burden on taxpayers.

The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com

This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.
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