During the holiday season, most Americans were focused on faith, family and last-minute gifts. Few were paying attention to what was going on in Washington or Columbus, Ohio. While voters were taking a break from politics, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine pushed forward a misguided and controversial decision to bring refugees into the state.
President Trump issued an executive order allowing states and municipalities the opportunity to opt out of the refugee resettlement program. The executive order empowered states and localities across the country to finally make their own decisions on the controversial subject, rather than having refugees imposed on their communities by Washington. Yet without consulting voters with so much as a town hall meeting, DeWine decided to go forward with the refugee process.
On Dec. 24 DeWine wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Ohio would continue to take in refugees and stated that religious organizations in Ohio are successful at welcoming and assimilating refugees. What he failed to disclose was that religious organizations like Catholic Charities and Catholic Social Services, who resettle refugees in Ohio, are paid handsomely for their work at taxpayer expense.
Contractors like Catholic Charities have a budget to resettle refugees that is financed by taxpayer money. On average, it costs $15,000 to help resettle a single refugee. Once they are in the country, they are automatically eligible for government programs like food stamps, welfare, and Medicaid. During their first 20 years in the U.S., taxpayers will spend over $92,000 per refugee, and that does include if they have children who have to be educated, hospitalized, and sometimes incarcerated at taxpayer expense.
The entire refugee resettlement organization is a for-profit enterprise that brings thousands of people into working-class communities at taxpayer expense. Governor DeWine didn’t even feel it necessary to speak to voters about his decision beforehand. He automatically assumed that Ohioans wanted to import more people to their communities like far-left Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who came to the U.S. under our refugee program and was resettled by Catholic Charities.
Critics, especially religious organizations, have been condemning anyone who says the refugee system is problematic as being un-Christian or closed-minded. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
While importing refugees to the U.S. may seem compassionate, there are much more efficient ways of protecting vulnerable populations around the globe.
Resettling refugees to the U.S. is far more costly than moving them to a safe neighboring country. Our federal tax dollars allocated to protecting refugees could do much more if they didn’t focus on resettling them in the U.S.
Take refugees from the Syrian Civil War as an example. It cost American taxpayers about $64,370 to resettle one Syrian refugee into the U.S. for five years, and a family of Syrian refugees would ultimately cost about $250,000 during the same period, according to a study by CIS. Resettling refugees in neighboring countries like Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon cost $1,057 annually. By importing them here and enriching the supposedly compassionate groups with taxpayer funds, fewer refugees are being helped than would be had we spent the same amount of funds relocating them to a neighboring country.
Furthermore, the current system is problematic because once our state has agreed to accept refugees, we have no control over who the federal government places in our community. Most refugees, like most people in general, are decent and law-abiding, but a few of them have become monsters in our country. For example, in 2013, ABC News reported that the U.S. refugee system accidentally allowed dozens of suspected terrorist bombmakers who targeted American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan into the U.S. under our refugee system. Two of them were members of al Qaeda who arrested in Kentucky after being associated with the murder of American soldiers.
America is the most generous nation on the planet, and Americans have made more personal sacrifices for the wellbeing of strangers than any other people in history. Given all that we’ve done, it would seem like the least our leaders could do is ask voters how they feel about for-profit refugee resettlement that brings strangers into our community, at our expense, without our consent.
I applaud compassion for refugees. Ohioans are compassionate people. But there is plenty of compassion needed for our own Ohio citizens in need of mental health care and opioid addiction. And let’s not forget in the end, who is paying for this compassion.
Voters in 2016 signaled that they wanted our leaders to focus inward. The president gave the governor that opportunity, and he blew it.
Jim Renacci represented Ohio’s 16th congressional district as a Republican from 2011 to 2019. He is the chairman of Ohio’s Future Foundation.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.