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Trump Administration Doesn't Want to Hear About Benefits of Welcoming Refugees

The White House rejected a report showing that refugees create more goverment revenue than resettlement programs cost

A Health and Human Services report compiled this summer showed that refugees contributed more than $260 billion in taxes between 2005 and 2014. (Photo: World Relief Spokane/Flickr/cc)

At the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, President Donald Trump pushed back against the United Nations' appeals to resettle refugees displaced by the civil war in Syria and other conflicts, saying in his speech, "For the cost of settling one refugee in the U.S., we could support ten in their home country." But according to a New York Times report, the White House suppressed research demonstrating that refugees contribute more to government revenues than they cost.

A report by the Health and Human Services Department, requested by the Trump administration in March, showed that refugees "contributed an estimated $269.1 billion in revenues to all levels of government" between 2005 and 2014, by paying federal, state, and local taxes —about $63 billion more than government agencies spent on services for those refugees.

The research negates the Trump administration's repeated claim that allowing refugees from Syria and other countries would cause a drain on the U.S. economy, used to bolster its argument for capping the number of refugees allowing in the U.S. at 40,000 to 50,000, or even lower.

According to the Times, the White House rejected the findings when they were submitted earlier this month. Senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, who along with former Trump strategist Steve Bannon has pushed the administration's anti-immigration agenda, apparently "requested a meeting to discuss the report" after it was sent to the White House and "personally intervened in the discussions on the refugee cap to ensure that only the costs—not any fiscal benefit—of the program were considered."

The White House claimed that the draft had been produced by "someone with an ideological agenda," and later accepted a final report that included information only about the costs associated with resettling refugees.

Other reports have shown the economic benefits associated with welcoming refugees into the country and allowing them to contribute the the economy as well. The nonprofit National Bureau of Economic Research said in a report in June that "refugees pay $21,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits over their first 20 years in the U.S."

On social media, Trump critics denounced the White House's rejection of the data presented in its own study.

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