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Indiana State Department of Health

Refugee Health Program Home > Myths about Refugees Myths about Refugees

There are many myths and misconceptions about refugees.  An important fact to remember is that refugees have entered the country legally after having undergone a stringent application and screening process.  Also, keep in mind the definition of a refugee is any person who is unable or unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of their country of nationality or habitual residence because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.  Now to dispel some myths…

MYTH: Refugees Do Not Pay Taxes.

FACT: Refugees are subject to the same employment, property, sales, and other taxes as      any U.S. citizen.  Refugees cannot vote, however.

MYTH: Refugees Take Jobs From U.S. Workers.

FACT: Recent evidence by the U.S. Labor Department says "NO" to this myth. Refugees are not provided any special treatment when obtaining employment. They must apply and compete for jobs the same as any citizen. Refugees often enter economic sectors currently unable to supply adequate numbers of native workers. Refugees and immigrants also create jobs for U.S. workers because they have a high propensity to start new businesses. Refugees have been a major force in contributing to the urban renewal of several major U.S. cities.

• MYTH: Refugees Receive Special Money From the U.S. Government to Purchase   Homes, Cars, and Other Items.
 
FACT: The U.S. Government does not provide refugees with money when they arrive in      the U.S., however, there are minimal benefits available for emergency situations and the medically needy. The refugee must apply for these benefits and meet income and resource standards to qualify for any assistance.

• MYTH: Refugees come to the U.S. for Economic Reasons.

FACT: Refugees are individuals or families who have come to the U.S. because they were forced to flee their homeland, many times with little or no belongings, leaving family and friends behind and are unable to return.

MYTH: The United States Is The Only Country To Accept Refugees.

FACT: There are 24 countries worldwide involved in refugee resettlement. The major resettlement countries include: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

• MYTH: Refugees Do Not Contribute or Participate In Society.

FACT: Refugees contribute a great deal to this country through the sharing of their talents, skills, cultures and customs. History indicates that some of our most significant contributors to the U.S. have been refugees and immigrants.  And, as noted previously, refugees do pay taxes.

• MYTH: Refugees Represent a Health Hazard to the American Public.

FACT: There are refugees who have health problems which are a result of the lack of medical care that existed in their country of origin or due to problems they encountered during their flight from persecution. Most health problems are addressed by health care services in first-asylum camps and in refugee processing centers before refugees are admitted to the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) closely monitors all admissions and prevents the admission of certain persons with health conditions identified as hazardous to the public.