Trump Administration Rejects Its Own Research on Economic Benefits of Accepting Refugees

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

Trump’s presidential memorandum in March implementing his travel ban also solicited a study on refugees from the Department of Health and Human Services—in retrospect, a bad idea for his purposes, as research tends to support the notion that admitting refugees is a good thing to do.


Indeed, the results of the unreleased draft report, the New York Times reports, found that refugees brought in $63 billion more in government revenue than they cost. Now, this inconvenient information appears to have been suppressed by the administration, not known for being hugely into math or information or accuracy in general.

From the Times:

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.

The final document, according to the Times, only covers the costs of refugees, not the benefits—how odd! Now, who could be behind this? Could it perhaps be a 31-year-old nightmare from Santa Monica whose name rhymes with Peeven Biller, the one who recently advocated for lowering the refugee cap to below 50,000?

It was not clear who in the administration decided to keep the information out of the final report. An internal email, dated Sept. 5 and sent among officials from government agencies involved in refugee issues, said that “senior leadership is questioning the assumptions used to produce the report.” A separate email said that Mr. Miller had requested a meeting to discuss the report. The Times was shown the emails on condition that the sender not be identified. Mr. 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.

The UN Refugee Agency found that at the end of 2016, 65.6 million people had been forcibly displaced around the world, the highest number since the agency’s founding after World War II. The latest wave of displacement has seen Rohingya Muslims fleeing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar; thousands of homes have been burned, and approximately 417,000 people have poured into Bangladesh.

According to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Trump asked how her country was doing and then ignored her when she brought up the refugee situation, which is fairly representative of his general stance on the desperately obvious facts that refute nearly all of his policy stances: ignore them!


It seems like a bad time for a huge country with an aging population facing a barrage of national security threats to alienate its allies and betray its core values by closing its doors to traumatized people it has plenty of room for. Yet that’s what the Trump administration would very much like to do, because even post-Bannon, the West Wing continues to be rigorously focused on making the exact wrong moral and practical choices on every front.

What a disgrace.

Ellie is a freelance writer and former senior writer at Jezebel. She is pursuing a master's degree in science journalism at Columbia University in the fall.


JujyMonkey: unstable genius

Boy, I really hope that Mueller has dirt on that dead-eyed little fuck Steven Miller.

Christ, how can someone who’s 31 look like his soul has rotted away?