• Description

Over forty years ago, the people and government of the United States chose to provide refuge and dignity to those who need it through the bipartisan U.S. Refugee Act of 1980. In recent years, our refugee resettlement system has suffered increased restrictions and the lowest refugee acceptance numbers in the history of the program, particularly under the Trump administration.

In the first months of his presidency, President Biden proposed increasing the refugee resettlement ceiling and signed Executive Order 14013 to review, rehabilitate, and enhance the U.S. refugee resettlement system. Additionally, as a result of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program was expanded for thousands of Afghan nationals employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government. Similarly, the Biden administration expanded the Priority 2 (P-2) refugee resettlement program for other at-risk Afghans. Building and capitalizing upon local support will be key to successfully rebuilding refugee resettlement and supporting refugees and SIV holders once they have arrived.

This local support is hard won, however, as some perceive refugees to be an economic or fiscal burden on local communities. In a recent survey of local officials in receiving communities, 40 percent mentioned the economic impacts of refugees, compared to only 25 percent who mentioned refugees' cultural fit. This policy brief examines the fiscal impacts of refugee resettlement on states and local communities, using Virginia as a case study to provide more insight into resettlement's implications for state and local fiscal health.