Tens of thousands of refugees from all over the world resettle in the US each year.

For many, their first few months or years in the country are spent reorienting — overcoming trauma, learning a new language, enrolling in school, and making friends.

But after this adjustment period, refugees tend to become highly productive members of society, according to a new report by the Urban Institute.

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“Resettled refugees have entered the US on humanitarian grounds,” Hamutal Bernstein, the report’s author, wrote in an introduction. “They have been admitted for safety and refuge from violence, torture, or discrimination, not to contribute to our workforce.”

“And yet, refugees do contribute to the US workforce and society,” she added.

Refugees have higher rates of labor force participation than the general population and many own homes and start businesses.

In fact, refugees earn $77 billion in income each year, pay $20 billion in taxes, and their average use of welfare declines annually, according to CNBC.

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Many refugees excel at English and become active community members, the report found.

These patterns are driven by a few factors.

First, resettlement agencies help to accommodate refugees by finding them places to stay, enrolling them in English courses if necessary, connecting them with people from similar backgrounds, and presenting them with initial job opportunities.

Refugees also don’t have to work or live in the shadows because from day one they’re on a path toward citizenship.

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Finally, many refugees are highly skilled and educated people who are only in the US because they were forced to flee their homes.

For instance, 27% of Syrians who come to the US have an advanced degree, compared to 10% to 13% for US-born people and immigrants.

The report stresses that refugee experiences are enormously varied, just like they would be for any huge group of people from dozens of different countries. But Bernstein also stresses that highlighting the positive contributions of refugees counters the dominant narrative coming from the White House.

Since taking office, US President Donald Trump has continually tried to block refugees from coming to the US, stifled the refugee resettlement process, and greatly reduced the number of refugees who are permitted to enter the country.

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Trump has also disparaged refugees as burdens on society who are incapable of integrating, even going so far as to claim that Syrian refugees are secretly ISIS members bent on undermining the US.

“Recent research on refugees, including the cost report mandated by executive order, has focused on refugees’ economic costs and contributions, but this balance-sheet mentality has shortcomings,” Bernstein wrote.

“Refugees contribute to local economies, but they contribute in other ways,” she added.

Global CItizen campaigns to help refugees and you can take action on this issue here.


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