Top Dems Investigate Report That White House Squelched Study on Economic Contributions of Refugees

September 26, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Sept. 26, 2017)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. John Conyers, Jr., the Ranking Member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Security, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price requesting documents about reports that the White House suppressed an internal study highlighting the positive net economic contributions of refugees.

"Our nation's public policies should be based on a thorough understanding of empirical facts and data, but if these recent reports are true, it appears that the Trump Administration may have rejected these facts in order to present a biased, incomplete, and ultimately false political narrative," the Ranking Members wrote.  "It is critical for Congress and the American people to understand who in the Trump Administration engaged in these actions and why."

Last week, the New York Times reported that White House officials rejected a study by HHS reporting that refugees brought in "$63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost" because the draft contradicted the Trump Administration's political goal of reducing the number of refugees entering the country next year.

The Times reported that White House officials said the study was "illegitimate and politically motivated" and that the new, final report "asserts that the per-capita cost of a refugee is higher than that of an American." The  Times reported that the Trump Administration achieved its skewed results by examining only expenditures by refugees while excluding all of their financial contributions.

"If this account is accurate, the Trump Administration's suppression of this draft report suggests an Orwellian dismissal of fact-based analysis in service of the worst kind of political pessimism," the Ranking Members wrote.  "It also represents a potential violation of Section 207(e)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which requires the Administration to provide Congress with ‘an analysis of the anticipated social, economic, and demographic impact of [refugees]' admission to the United States.'"

The Members requested all drafts of the study, including the final version, and all communications referring or relating to any draft of the report, including between federal officials, agencies, and non-governmental entities or individuals.  They also requested a briefing by next week with the appropriate White House and HHS officials involved in producing the report.

Click here to read the letter to the White House.

Click here to read the letter to HHS.