The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the Trump administration is set to replace its initial ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries with targeted measures that would vary by country.
The new measures could announced early next week, and might conceivably moot one of President Trump’s first official actions, as well as the Supreme Court cases surrounding it.
Trump’s initial move instituting the travel ban was argued for as a temporary measure to allow his administration to unravel the intricacies of Islamic extremism. The district and appeals court challenges and reversals to the original policy softened some of the initial hard lines in the administration’s ban.
Yet it also included one measure that was decidedly not temporary: An “indefinite” ban on any Syrian refugees entering the country.
Factual evidence on the impact of refugees is hard to come by
Missing in all of this has been actual factual evidence about the economic and security impact of refugees. This makes the Trump administration’s rejection of its own Department of Health and Human Services report showing that refugees are an economic boon to the United States all the more disturbing.
The administration received the report on July 29. It found that:
The net fiscal impact of refugees was positive over the 10-year period, at $63 billion. That means that they contributed more in revenue than they cost in expenditures…. Refugees’ net fiscal benefit to the federal government was estimated at $40.9 billion, and the net fiscal benefit to state and local governments was estimated at $22 billion.
White House Spokesman Raj Shah criticized the release of information, saying that:
This leak was delivered by someone with an ideological agenda, not someone looking at hard data. The actual report pursuant to the presidential memorandum shows that refugees with few skills coming from war-torn countries take more government benefits from the Department of Health and Human Services than the average population, and are not a net benefit to the U.S. economy.
The problem with this statement is that there is no such “actual report,” at least not yet.
On September 5, HHS submitted a much shorter report that details refugee costs to the government but makes no mention of how much money they contribute.
If the leaked report’s assessment were inaccurate, and Raj Shah’s contention that refugees are an economic drain were correct, one would expect that conclusion would be included in the September 5 document, if only to justify the Trump administration’s ongoing hostility to refugees. But that conclusion is nowhere to be found.
That’s disappointing, but not surprising. Trump’s policy on refugees requires both the president and the American people to view refugees in a decidedly negative light, which is why evidence that refugees are a net positive has appears to have been exorcised.