The verdict of history
Trump’s war on refugees is a disastrous mistake and a totally self-inflicted wound. “Rather than making America great again,” editorialized the Washington Post, “it would do the very opposite by making the country small, peevish, inward-looking and heedless of its role on the global stage.”
One Trumpian trope is that refugees are costly to the country, a drain on public resources, so the president ordered a government study to prove his point. But the research showed exactly the opposite. Refugees -- because they are often young, hard-working taxpayers -- brought in $63 billion more in government revenue over the last 10 years than they cost in services.
The Ministry of Alternative Facts in the Trump White House was horrified and killed the report, according to The New York Times. This is not just intellectually dishonest but economically selfdefeating.
All immigrants, including refugees, are a strong net plus for the economy, and that is especially true in the aging heartland that delivered Trump his victory. A study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs concludes that the Midwest depends “on immigration as an economic lifeline” to replenish departing young people and retiring baby boomers. As the study’s author told The Atlantic: “For the cities of the Midwest, restricting current immigration levels is the last thing they need.” The second argument advanced by the anti-refugee crowd is protecting national security, but again, this is full of non-facts. Since 9/11, not a single American has been killed in a terrorist attack perpetrated by a refugee, and that’s because refugees are subjected to exhaustive scrutiny before they are allowed to resettle here.
Moreover, few refugees are young men of military age. Michael Chertoff, who was Secretary of Homeland Security under President Bush 43, wrote in the Post: “Only the most vulnerable -- those whose safety cannot be assured in their countries of first refuge -- are selected for resettlement. For these refugees -widowed women; orphaned children; survivors of rape, torture and brutal religious persecution -- refugee resettlement is a lifeline.”
The deepest damage inflicted by Trump’s refugee policy is to our national honor and reputation. How can we ask other national leaders to shoulder the burden of a worldwide refugee crisis -- often at great political risk, as Angela Merkel has learned -- if we slam our own doors?
The answer is we cannot. “We need to show our friends and allies that we stand with them and this is a shared burden,” says Chertoff.
The War on Refugees is part of a larger pattern, a deliberate and long-standing attempt by Trump to dredge up xenophobic impulses for
Newspaper Enterprise Assn.