A group of mostly Syrian refugee families rides the subway during a tour of Manhattan on April 21, 2017.
Ahead of an October 1 decision on how many refugees to admit into the United States next year, the New York Times reports that the Trump administration nixed a report showing that displaced people are beneficial to the U.S. economy. Commissioned by the White House in an effort to help justify its anti-immigration policy platform, the full document never made its way to President Trump, and officials believe it was suppressed before it got there.
The Times has the details of what the never-published report found:
The internal study, which was completed in late July but never publicly released, found that refugees “contributed an estimated $269.1 billion in revenues to all levels of government” between 2005 and 2014 through the payment of federal, state and local taxes. “Overall, this report estimated that the net fiscal impact of refugees was positive over the 10-year period, at $63 billion.”
But White House officials said those conclusions were illegitimate and politically motivated, and were disproved by the final report issued by the agency, which asserts that the per-capita cost of a refugee is higher than that of an American.
Rather than include the key data, the final draft limited its findings to how much money Department of Health and Human Services spends on an average refugee compared to a U.S. citizen. By that metric, it found that refugees seek government services more often, “reflecting a greater participation of refugees in H.H.S. programs, especially during their first four years.”
Stephen Miller, the Trump team’s preeminent immigration hawk, has been arguing that the U.S. should greatly reduce the number of refugees allowed into the country. The Trump administration already halved President Obama’s refugee quota from about 100,000 to about 50,000 people this year, but Miller wants to go much further in the future. (Even the numbers Obama approved were minuscule, on a per-capita basis, compared to Canada and many European countries.) Whatever quota the Trump administration arrives at will likely be the lowest in decades.
Miller, the 32-year-old former Jeff Sessions aide, has had a hand in most of the president’s big nativist moments. He authored the infamous “American carnage” inauguration speech and other addresses that have portrayed immigrants as “animals” who commit grisly crimes. And, not surprisingly, he appears to be one of the central voices that squashed the report in question; the Times reports that Miller “personally intervened in the discussions on the refugee cap to ensure that only the costs — not any fiscal benefit — of the program were considered, according to two people familiar with the talks.” Never mind that many other studies have also shown that refugees are a benefit, not a drain, to American society.
From immigration to climate change to health care, the Trump White House has shown that it won’t let facts and figures get in the way of preconceived notions.