Report: Trump Officials Quashed Study Showing Refugees’ Net Benefit To US

Andrew Harrer/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Trump administration officials nixed a study that found refugees had brought in more government revenue overall than they had cost in benefits, the New York Times reported Monday.

The White House was ultimately given a report that spelled out only the costs associated with refugees. It’s unclear exactly who nixed the information from the study showing refugees’ positive net fiscal impact on the country. The Times’ report comes as the Trump administration determines how many refugees to accept in the coming year, ahead of an Oct. 1 deadline.

Two people familiar with talks over the refugee cap told the Times that White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller had intervened to ensure that only costs associated with refugees, and not government revenues generated by them, were taken into consideration.

Officials at the Department of Health and Human services originally drafted a report that included the finding that refugees brought in more government revenue than they took in benefits between 2005 and 2014, via their contribution of federal, state and local taxes. According to the Times, the report “estimated that the net fiscal impact of refugees was positive over the 10-year period, at $63 billion.”

But based on a March executive order that instructed HHS to consider only “the estimated long-term costs of the United States Refugee Admissions Program at the Federal, State, and local levels,” that initial report eventually was replaced with one that left out all revenue generated by refugees, according to the Times.

The report delivered to the White House found that “per-capita refugee costs for major H.H.S. programs totaled $3,300” while “[p]er-person costs for the U.S. population were lower, at $2,500,” according to the Times.

White House spokesperson Raj Shah told the paper that the report Trump requested in his executive order “shows that refugees with few skills coming from war-torn countries take more government benefits from the Department of Health and Human Services than the average population, and are not a net benefit to the U.S. economy.”

Miller, who the Times reported wanted to consider costs and not revenues when discussing the upcoming refugee cap, has been a loud proponent of allowing fewer non-citizens into the United States.

He notably got into a lengthy debate with CNN’s Jim Acosta during a White House press briefing last month while arguing in favor of the RAISE Act, which would significantly restrict access to green cards based on things like education and marketable skills. Miller noted that the poem on the statue of liberty—“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”—was not the “law of the land.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK