President Trump Updates Executive Order on Refugees: Could Help MN Track Costs

Minnesota is the number one destination for refugees in the United States on a per capita basis. We get a large number of refugees placed here by the federal government—and we get a big surge from what is called “secondary migration.” Simply, that is when refugees settled in another state move to Minnesota.

Moreover, refugees are put on a fast-track for legal resident status and citizenship by the federal government. Once refugees are citizens, they can bring family here. That is one reason why Minnesota’s only net-positive population growth comes from foreign-born immigrants.

The Center has been trying for several years to answer a simple question: how much does the refugee resettlement program cost taxpayers.

We cannot get the answer because the state does not track the costs. Why? I think that there is a bias against tracking it. The thinking goes like this: It is the right thing to do (help refugees) so why would you care? We are a rich country and have plenty to spare.

Also, it turns out, the legislature has never asked, for example, the Department of Human Services (DHS) to track and then report on the welfare costs. Or the Department of Education on educating people from around the world, the Supreme Court or the Department of Corrections on what it costs to have interpreters provided to refugees so that justice can be done, and so on.

We have just quietly absorbed the costs without any accountability to taxpayers and citizens. None.

So I was pleased to hear that the President re-issued and updated his Executive Order regarding refugees. You can read the entire order here but below I have copied several key provisions below that will hopefully lead to a suspension of the program until we get a grip on what this is costing and the broader impact on our state and country.

We have many refugees here already: are we doing a good job of welcoming them and teaching them how to be a productive Minnesotan? Will they assimilate or just “integrate” separately?

Congress has not done anything to address this issue, nor has the State of Minnesota. Most politicians are terrified to bring it up because they know they will be accused of being racist, xenophobic and just plain mean.

No one has asked American citizens, including legal immigrants who work so hard to get here, for their permission or point of view on the program.

Since when do we spend taxpayer money without accounting for it?

The President lowered the number of refugees to be admitted from 110,000 people to 45, 000 a year. (Obama raised the number from about 50,000 under Bush, admitting about 85,000 a year while in office. Obama then raised the number for 2016-2017 to 110,000). You can review admissions and arrival reports here.

Even though the Trump administration has issued new vetting procedures overseas and dropped the number who can be admitted, 1,236 refugees have already arrived in the United States in the month of October. And as you know, the restrictions on travel for certain countries has been enjoined by federal judges who think they have the authority to run foreign and domestic policy for the country.

Let’s see what kind of reports this order generates in April. Clearly the President is trying to set the table for major reform. For Minnesota, and places like St. Cloud, Faribault, Wilmar and any other town with a Jenny-O plant, it cannot come too soon.

ii) Within 90 days of the date of this order and annually thereafter, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall determine, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, whether any actions taken to address the risks to the security and welfare of the United States presented by permitting any category of refugees to enter this country should be modified or terminated, and, if so, what those modifications or terminations should be. If the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, determines, at any time, that any actions taken pursuant to section 3(a)(i) should be modified or terminated, the Secretary of Homeland Security may modify or terminate those actions accordingly. The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State shall administer the USRAP consistent with the determinations made under this subsection, and in consultation with the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence.

(b) Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Attorney General shall, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security, and in cooperation with the heads of other executive departments and agencies as he deems appropriate, provide a report to the President on the effect of refugee resettlement in the United States on the national security, public safety, and general welfare of the United States. The report shall include any recommendations the Attorney General deems necessary to advance those interests.