Vital Signs

More for the Money

The President's 2006 budget, called "austere" by some in the mainstream media, provides for an increase in spending for refugee resettlement by $154 million, allowing for the arrival of about 20,000 more refugees in 2006.

President Bush has taken a personal interest in refugee resettlement, and the consensus among immigration restrictonists, both within and outside of government, seems to be that raising objections to growth in the resettlement program is not worth the effort. That is not irrational, considering the bad press that such objections would bring, and in light of the refugee program's size relative to other immigration programs.

In 2005, the U.S. refugee program will admit approximately 5 5,000 people—the same number who illegally cross the border, intending to stay, every three weeks or so. The Bush amnesty could eventually make permanent legal residents of up to 12 million aliens who either crossed the border illegally or overstayed a non-immigrant visa. Direct relatives of the newly legalized could swell the U.S. population by 50 million in a few years.

Against this, the refugee program seems insignificant.

But the refugee program is tightly interwoven with both legal and illegal immigration and has effects that go well beyond the official quota. Changes are under way in the program that will amplify these effects, ultimately driving up all forms of immigration.


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