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  1. Trump Administration Lies About the Economic Impact of Refugees

    There's a Yiddish expression, "A halber emes iz a gantse lign,Ē which means, ďA half-truth is a whole lie.Ē A recent article from the New York Times demonstrates that the Trump Administration is using half truths in order to justify its plan to reduce refugee admissions to historically low levels for the upcoming fiscal year. From the Times article:

    Trump administration officials, under pressure from the White House to provide a rationale for reducing the number of refugees allowed into the United States next year, rejected a study by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that refugees brought in $63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost.

    In other words, political officials suppressed a study from HHS because the results of that study did not support Mr. Trump's policy goals.
    The draft study was completed in July but never publicly released. Instead, it was leaked to the NY Times. The study was meant to look at the costs and benefits of refugee resettlement to our economy. How much do refugees cost us for things like public benefits, education, and law enforcement? How much do refugees contribute through taxes? Are refugees a net gain or a net loss, at least in terms of dollars spent and received?

    The 55-page draft study 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. Taking into account resettlement and other costs, the report estimates that "the net fiscal impact of refugees was positive over the 10-year period, at $63.0 billion.Ē When refugees and their family members were counted, the benefits were more modest, but still positive, at $16.9 billion. These results align with another recent study on the economic impact of refugees conducted by two professors at the University of Notre Dame.

    The final, three-page report that HHS ultimately submitted includes only money spent by the government on refugees, without including revenue--literally, half the truth (and that's being generous, since they reduced the size of the report from 55 pages to three). Maybe I can do the same thing on my own taxes--include only my expenses, but leave out revenue. I am not sure how that would go over with the IRS, but I'm guessing not well.

    This strategy--of promoting the negative by leaving out the positive--is nothing new for the Trump Administration. Last Spring, the Department of Homeland Security launched the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office. According to DHS, VOICE will, ďProvide quarterly reports studying the effects of the victimization by criminal aliens present in the United States.Ē So we get to see the negative impact of aliens on the United States, but we hear nothing about the positive contributions made by such people (and of course, the evidence is pretty conclusive that aliens commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans).

    Not all government employees are on board with the Trump Administration's anti-refugee program. The most obvious dissenter is the anonymous person who leaked the HHS report to the NY Times. More publicly, the State Department's Director of Refugee Admissions told an audience at the Heritage Foundation, "We see... that refugees do very, very well, and itís one of the reasons that we would like to see more long-term studies about refugee success and perhaps failure so that we can really see those areas that we should focus on more.... Theyíre taking jobs that are otherwise unfilled, and refugees, frankly, do quite well."

    There also seems to be internal disagreement about how many refugees we should admit to the country. For FY 2017, President Obama raised the refugee ceiling from 85,000 to 110,000, but President Trump has proposed reducing refugee admissions to 45,000 for FY 2018, which starts on October 1. Interestingly, officials at the National Security Council, the State Department, and the Department of Defense have lined up to oppose such a precipitous drop, presumably because they recognize the benefits of our refugee program.

    By next week, we should know for sure how many refugees President Trump plans to admit in FY 2018. I'm not optimistic about the numbers, but I understand that reducing immigration was one of Mr. Trump's core promises when he ran for president. What probably bothers me most about the whole process, though, is the blatant dishonesty of the President, who is trying to justify his refugee policy based on half truths and whole lies. An honest discussion might not result in a different outcome in terms of numbers, but it would be far better for our country and our democracy.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
    Tags: refugees, trump Add / Edit Tags
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