Political Asylum Applicants:

Financial Effect on Local Services in the Miami Area

GGD-89-54FS: Published: Feb 23, 1989. Publicly Released: Mar 3, 1989.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO assessed how the influx of Nicaraguans seeking asylum affected local service providers in Dade County and Miami, Florida.

GAO found that: (1) the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) Miami District Office received 8,214 applications for asylum in fiscal year (FY) 1988 and estimated that it would receive over 15,000 in FY 1989; (2) Dade County had the largest school enrollment in Florida for the 1988-89 school year and the largest estimated increase in enrollment from 1980 to 1990; (3) 49 county schools were scheduled for construction in the next 7 years; (4) although voters passed a $980 million bond referendum in 1988, school plans did not consider the substantial increase in Nicaraguans; and (5) the county's critical lack of classroom space contributed to $5.8 million in operating expenses that the state had not reimbursed. GAO also found that: (1) Dade County provided an estimated $4 million in social and health care services to indigent or temporarily indigent Nicaraguans; (2) Miami offered emergency shelter, sleeping arrangements, meals, job placement and transportation assistance, at an estimated daily cost of about $4,000; and (3) Miami officials were concerned that, although Nicaraguans did not cause crime problems, if INS denied the Nicaraguan asylum requests, they would try to remain in the United States illegally. In addition, GAO found that: (1) one private-sector organization estimated that it provided assistance to 584 Nicaraguans at a cost of $24,744 during the last 6 months of 1988; and (2) the Miami-Dade County Community College provided education to 1,890 Nicaraguans at a cost of $2,713,000, which was not reimbursed, and expected the number of Nicaraguan students to increase 40 percent, to 2,646, in 1989.

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