Maine Writer: Where is the Data to Support Alleged Benefits of More Refugee Workers?

This is an excellent opinion piece from Maine, a state we have extensively reported on here at RRW.

The writer very logically explains that before the state willy-nilly invites even more refugees and asylum seekers who supposedly would fill the needs of businesses looking for labor, more data is needed because right now it sure looks like Maine taxpayers are picking up the slack.

 

Asylum seekers from the Congo and Angola were temporarily housed at the Portland Expo Center in 2019. https://www.mainepublic.org/post/new-asylum-seekers-arrive-portland-southern-border

See Jonette Christian at Maine Compass:

Maine Compass: Work permits for asylum applicants? Slow down

We need more data on how long it takes most refugees to make enough in wages to support their families without taxpayers’ help.

As more asylum seekers arrive in Portland, members of Maine’s congressional delegation want to accelerate work permits, pointing to labor shortages and taxpayer costs. But on a closer look, good reasons exist for continuing to require applicants to wait for work permits.

[….]

I believe that the labor benefit of employing asylum applicants is exaggerated, as court denial rates for West African applicants range from 40 percent to 50 percent, which suggests that almost half of Portland’s asylum seekers will eventually be denied and become potentially deportable. And of those who achieve refugee status, there are substantial costs.

Proof that the costs of refugee resettlement are shifted to states, while supposedly some financial benefits accrue at the federal level.

An internal study rejected by the Trump administration and leaked to The New York Times, “The Fiscal Costs of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program at the Federal, State, and Local Levels from 2005-2014,” provides important data for Maine’s representatives in Washington. The authors estimate that refugees and their dependents generated a $52.8 billion federal surplus but caused a net deficit at the state and local levels of $35.9 billion. Since the federal surplus would be shared nationwide, but the state and local deficits fall entirely on state and local governments, increasing the number of refugees in Maine would cost Maine taxpayers.

And the federal benefit? I imagine that the study’s computed federal benefit is inflated, as the impact of refugees on the high cost of national defense or federal debt was not included in this study — a surprising omission.

I suspect the enormous cost to our economy of remittances—money sent back to the home country—was never included either.

Christian continues….

Refugee costs shouldn’t surprise us. Moving to a new country, learning the language and making enough money to support your family is difficult.

The Maine Department of Labor looked at the employment data five years after Somali immigrants arrived in Lewiston-Auburn in 2001. By 2006, only half of working-age Somalis had worked at all. Many of those jobs were seasonal and low wage.

Excellent questions that are NEVER answered:

Before providing work permits to a new population of asylees, we need more data. How long does it take most refugees to make enough in wages to support their families without taxpayer programs? Will Portland’s applicants remain when they get refugee status? Or will they move to cities with better wages and larger populations of their compatriots? Do they have the skills our employers need?

[….]

When politicians provide foreign workers to employers that don’t pay a livable wage, then taxpayers will eventually subsidize the employee with public programs. It would be better to require employers to recruit Americans.

Now here comes the ticking time bomb that no one wants to talk about—what is going to happen to all of the low-skilled workers we have admitted (and continue to admit) by the millions as the automation monster rears its ugly head?

And we might ponder the future. A recent McKinsey study is projecting that automation will replace nearly half of the American workforce by 2055. Walmart already uses robots to stock shelves, and McKinsey predicts that automation will sweep the economy. Let’s slow down, and think this one through.

Read it all.

It includes lots of links to additional back-up information.

You might want to check out one of RRW’s top posts of all time—Maine’s welfare magnet (2009).

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