The Cost of Admission

                            A statue showing the hands of immigrants outstretched looking for support (image from pixabay.com)

                            A statue showing the hands of immigrants outstretched looking for support (image from pixabay.com)

Imagine being told that you have five minutes to grab everything that you need for a long journey ahead. You are scrambling to comprehend what is happening and can't even think clearly on what to bring with you. Time. It's been five minutes. Time to never see your home again. You trek for miles and miles, sometimes without shoes, in terrible heat, humidity, and through terrible violence. You look left. You see a building destroyed by bombs. You look right. You see the store that your family used to own looted and destroyed. And your journey is just beginning. This is what Syrian Refugees are going through when they flee the civil war in their own country and face terrible economic hardships when they arrive in America. But luckily the refugees don't have to face these adversities alone thanks to the help of the United States Government and other non-governmental organizations (NGO's) that provide at least a little help to these refugees. But this assistance can be a drain on the United States economy and provide hardships in its own right. After all, the tough journey and all the economic hardships, are intertwined to create the cost of admission for these Syrian Refugees.

A Burden on Taxpayers

Gus Haffner ('17) studying (image by Cam Carlin)

Gus Haffner ('17) studying (image by Cam Carlin)

It is said that resettling an average Syrian Refugee will cost around $64,370 while resettling an entire family will cost upwards of $257,481. This includes everything from food to housing to health insurance—a major burden put on the taxpayers to support these refugees . “Over 10-20 billion dollars is spent on refugees due to the cost of welfare that more than 75% of refugees are on”. Gus Haffner, a senior at Moeller, believes “the hardest part for Syrian refugees is understanding…how the [US] economy works.” This is very true and along with the huge economic struggle of resettlement, is a huge issue for these Syrian Refugees. But this economic burden isn’t all.

Economic Struggles of Refugees

There are all kinds of things that make life in America difficult for the refugees such as “education, transportation, and pay” says Haffner. (1) they are not able to obtain jobs due to their lack of higher education; (2) they often times can’t even get to these jobs because of the difficulty and cost of private transportation (and in many cases public transportation as well); and (3) the pay is not good enough for them to fully get on their feet. This is why financial help for Syrian refugees is so important, because it allows them an opportunity to try to prosper in this new country.

Governmental Aid for Refugees

However, Syrian refugees are fortunate enough not to have to go through this financial struggle alone. They are assisted by the United States Government as well as NGO's. Some students at Moeller, such as Chris Berger, believe that, "non-profits should help [refugees]...but the government should not." He says that the $1,100 stipend given to the refugees by the government should "not be given to people that the government can't fiscally support." The refugees also receive benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps, and other government benefits. But they are not just handed everything. In fact, they are required to pay back the United States Government for their ticket which often times make them start off their new lives in debt- sometimes $1500-$2000. They are requiring a sense of responsibility by the refugees and an investment on their part. And only then is the United States willing to help the Syrian Refugees start over in this country. Another senior at Moeller, Nick Everly, says, "This is how it should be...It needs to be a partnership."

Nick Everly ('17) deep in thought (image by Cam Carlin)

Nick Everly ('17) deep in thought (image by Cam Carlin)

A Hand Outstretched: From NGO's to Refugees

A refugee mother with her child (image from pixabay.com)

A refugee mother with her child (image from pixabay.com)

But in the grand scheme of things, "NGO's handle 90% of the workload on resettling refugees and financially are about1/2 the available assistance." Organizations such as the International Rescue Committee are vital in the placement of these refugees as well as helping out with day-to-day things such as finding housing, work, getting children enrolled in school, and many other vital components of a successful life. "The government is doing not nearly enough for refugees, so the majority falls on non-profits and the community." Gus Haffner thinks it is "great when people [come] together to help and support refugees in need." Refugees are on a tough journey in order to find a better life. They have little to no time to relocate their entire lives and must walk and fly miles on end to reach their final destination. They leave their homes, they never see their extended families again, their lives are forever changed. Many times it isn't even the long journey or paperwork that is hardest for refugees...the hardest part is understanding and optimizing the economy to work for them. But this economic struggle is shared; the refugees are not forced to face it alone. They have the government and NGO's at their back willing to help. But it is a constant struggle nonetheless.

Cam Carlin '17