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The Trump administration rejects its own study finding refugees help the economy

Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty Images

The Trump administration rejected a study conducted by its own Department of Health and Human Services finding that refugees had a net positive value in the United States over the past decade, according to a recent report by the New York Times.

The study found that between 2005 and 2014, refugees “contributed an estimated $269.1 billion in revenues to all levels of government” through the payment of federal, state, and local taxes — which far outweighed their cost to the country. “Overall, this report estimated that the net fiscal impact of refugees was positive over the 10-year period, at $63 billion.” When the study was completed in July, however, it was never publicly released, and the Trump administration dismissed the findings. From the New York Times:

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 rejected report contradicts the common refrain throughout Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency so far that refugees are an economic burden and a security risk. In a speech to the United Nationals General Assembly on Tuesday, the day after the Times published its report on the study, Trump insisted that the substantial costs of uncontrolled migration are borne overwhelmingly by low-income citizens whose concerns are often ignored by both media and government, an idea that was disputed not only by the HHS study but by the majority of research on immigration as well.

The Trump administration has a habit of ignoring research that contracts its policy positions. Another recent New York Times report found that scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency were concerned that the findings of 13 federal agencies on the effects of climate change happening right now would never be released to the public. The administration has made no secret of its dismissal of climate change, even banning the term at some federal agencies.

That appears to be what’s happening with the research on refugees at HHS as well. According to the Times report, chief policy adviser Stephen Miller, a crusader against even legal immigration, “personally intervened in the discussions on the refugee cap to ensure that only the costs — not any fiscal benefit — of the program were considered.”

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