Trump’s Own Study Shows Refugees Benefit U.S. Economy

By Laura Gault

Today President Trump falsely claimed to the United Nations General Assembly that resettling one refugee is as expensive as supporting ten individuals in frontline countries. Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that White House aide Stephen Miller suppressed a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) study which found that refugees made a net contribution of $63 billion to government revenue over the last decade.

The HHS study was never made public because it failed to comport with Stephen Miller’s anti-refugee agenda. HHS instead released a three page report which describes the initial costs of resettling refugees, without accounting for the federal, state, and local taxes they pay. As The New York Times reports, “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.”

Refugee resettlement advances American national security interests. Stephen Miller has long argued the opposite, despite being widely debunked by former military leaders and intelligence officials. Reducing refugee resettlement harms our troops’ ability to recruit interpreters and support staff, hurts America’s reputational standing, feeds terrorist propaganda, and increases the burden on our allies in the Middle East who are hosting record numbers of refugees with limited resources.

This HHS study disproves the second rationale Miller has used to argue for drastic cuts to the U.S. refugee resettlement program. The study shows that refugees are not a net cost to the American taxpayer.

Instead, as The New York Times reported, citing the internal study, 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.’”

In “A New Foundation of American Greatness,” outlining 2018 budget priorities, President Trump promises that “We will adopt commonsense proposals that protect American workers, reduce burdens on taxpayers and public resources, and focus Federal funds on underserved and disadvantaged citizens.” The government’s own study, produced in response to Executive Order 13780, clearly shows that further reductions in refugee admissions will increase rather than reduce burdens on taxpayers and public resources.

Commonsense proposals to advance U.S. national security and economic interests should include an expansion to the U.S. refugee resettlement program.


Published on September 19, 2017


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