The Trump Administration Didn’t Like a Report That Says Refugees Have a Net Positive Impact. You’ll Totally Believe What They Did Next.

Ron Sachs/CNP via ZUMA

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As part of his executive order banning refugees, Donald Trump ordered HHS to produce a report about the economic impact of refugees. The answer, according to HHS, is that refugees contributed $269 billion in tax revenue and used $206 billion in services, for a net positive impact of $63 billion over the past decade. However, when the final report was released, it presented only half the story:

“In an average year over the 10-year period, per-capita refugee costs for major H.H.S. programs totaled $3,300,” it says. “Per-person costs for the U.S. population were lower, at $2,500, reflecting a greater participation of refugees in H.H.S. programs, especially during their first four years” in the United States.

Why would HHS leave out the tax contribution side of the story? Apparently our old friend Stephen Miller insisted it be removed:

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.

OK, but the Trumpies can’t very well admit that, can they? So what’s the official explanation?

John Graham, the acting assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the health department, said: “We do not comment on allegedly leaked documents” and that no report had been finalized. He noted that Mr. Trump’s memorandum “seeks an analysis related to the cost of refugee programs. Therefore, the only analysis in the scope of H.H.S.’s response to the memo would be on refugee-related expenditures from data within H.H.S. programs.

Roger that. It’s an HHS report, so they can only use HHS data. Tax info would come from the Treasury Department, and that’s totally out of bounds. It would be inappropriate for an HHS report to present Treasury information.

What a bunch of clowns.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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