Why Reducing The Refugee Cap Is Bad Finance

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In late September, the government announced that it would slash the number of refugees allowed in the U.S. to 18,000 — a dramatic and historic low for the country since the modern resettlement program’s creation in 1980. In 2016, the refugee cap was at 85,000, which means this current cap was a reduction of a whopping 78% in a short period of time. To put this into further context, prior to 2016, the previous lowest refugee cap was 67,000 in the late 1980s.

As a refugee from Baku, Azerbaijan, I know firsthand how being a refugee motivates and propels individuals forward to find stability, achieve success and contribute positively to the economy.

The Numbers

When a refugee is accepted into the U.S., there are undoubtedly resettlement and social service costs, but in the long run, the burden of these costs rapidly decreases. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that adult refugees paid an estimated $21,000 more in taxes on average over a 20-year period, than they received in welfare payments.

A look into the 2017 New American Economy study shows that the nearly 2.4 million refugees who resettled in the U.S. earned more than $86 billion in income, paid more than $23 billion in taxes and held nearly $63 billion in spending power.

Entrepreneurship And Creating Jobs

Refugees not only contribute monetarily to the economy, but are also more likely than natives to become entrepreneurs and create more jobs. The New American Economy found that 13% of refugees are business owners; that compares to just 9% of U.S.-born citizens who start their own businesses. These individuals have already shown resilience, an ability to be resourceful and a willingness to take risks — traits that lend themselves well to successful entrepreneurs.

In fact, immigrants make up 15% of the general U.S. workforce but account for about 25% of the country’s entrepreneurs. In 2017, more than 186,000 refugee entrepreneurs generated $5.6 billion in business income.

Personal Stories

As a refugee, I fled the ethnic cleansing in Azerbaijan to eventually come to the U.S. I am now the CEO and cofounder of a banking startup in Austin, Texas, and I employ 18 employees and contractors. I am one of millions of refugees who can proudly share their success stories, including:

• Avant CEO and Cofounder Al Goldstein, who came to America as a refugee and now employs 2,500 people in his billion-dollar company.

• Ukrainian refugee Max Levchin, who went on to cofound PayPal and Affirm.

Bad Economics

Slowly dismantling the refugee program in the country is bad economics. Refugees pay more in taxes in the long run than what is spent on them during resettlement. They are natural entrepreneurs who create jobs and work hard, contributing significantly to the U.S. economy.

Putting such a low cap on the number of refugees allowed in is not only bad for our economy, but it also disregards a massive human element. Accepting refugees into the country can be life-changing, but most importantly, life-saving.

[“source=forbes”]