For many state and federal programs in Minnesota, little or no data exist to estimate costs of refugee resettlement. Others do offer some answers.
Cash, food and medical assistance
The state tracks refugee participants in Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), General Assistance (GA), Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare. Their status is not routinely updated as they become permanent residents. The data captures most refugees who move to Minnesota from other states. In 2015:
— $18.2 million to serve 10,740 refugee households in MFIP. Federal and state money
— $15 million to serve 18,630 refugees in SNAP. Federal.
— $1.2 million to serve 982 refugees in GA. State.
— $144.5 million to serve 23,715 refugees in Medical Assistance. Federal and state.
—$1.5 million to serve 812 refugees in MinnesotaCare. Federal and state.
Refugee cash assistance
Some refugees are eligible to apply for additional federal cash assistance dollars. In 2015, the feds spent $890,000 on 1,150 refugees.
No data identifying refugees exists for federal insurance subsidies through MNsure or for the federal Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.
Since 2012, more than 3,785 school-aged refugees were resettled in Minnesota. Another 865 aged 19 to 21 were eligible for public education services, but it's impossible to say how many enrolled. It is difficult to set a price tag because we don't know how many needed English learner and other services. In recent years, the average cost of educating a Minnesota student was about $8,080, or $9,790 for English learners.
Students whose home language was Somali or one of the idioms spoken in Myanmar — two groups that account for the bulk of last decade's refugees — are more likely to qualify for free or reduced price lunch than Minnesota students as a whole: 97 percent for each group compared with 36 percent for the state as a whole.
The state doesn't track refugee status, only language. Last year, recipients who listed Somali and Karen received $47.3 million and $438,000 in such subsidies, respectively, accounting for more than a quarter of total spending.
The program only collects data on the race and ethnicity of recipients.
There's no statewide data on refugee participation in the Section 8 voucher program and state-run housing subsidy programs.
In the 2016 fiscal year, more than 90 percent of participants in the $113.7 million federal energy assistance program listed English as their home language and 2.3 percent listed Somali.
State law enforcement officials have said refugees do not incur special costs. Studies show they commit fewer crimes than the native born.
The state and many local counties don't track such expenditures by refugee status and sometimes not even by language.
State employment services
127 people born in Somalia and Myanmar accessed state-funded employment guidance programs last fiscal year, or just more than 1 percent of all participants.