Four years ago, Donald Trump won the presidency while relentlessly fearmongering about refugees. So it came as no surprise when, in March 2017, his White House ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to study the long-term costs of refugee resettlement. A few months later, HHS returned with their results: Far from being a drain on resources, refugees had, in fact, contributed $63 billion more in government revenue than they had received in benefits between 2005 and 2014. The numbers were not to the White House’s liking—and so senior adviser Stephen Miller simply buried them. “The president believes refugees cost more, and the results of this study shouldn’t embarrass the president,” he reportedly told agency staff.
That’s just one example out of a myriad of instances during the last four years where the Trump administration has purposefully destroyed, manipulated, subverted and sidelined data—the lifeblood of a functioning government. Are honey bee colonies on the verge of collapse? How toxic is mercury? Are people of color paid less for the same work? How economically devastating has the COVID-19 pandemic been? The Trump administration’s war on data has made each of those questions, and many more, harder to answer—and thus harder to do anything about. As writer Samanth Subramanian puts it in the introduction to Data Disappeared, “by attacking numeracy, it is attacking democracy.” In 2021, for example, the United States will accept no more than 15,000 refugees, down from an annual average of 76,000 during the Obama administration.
Over the past year, a team of reporters at HuffPost has tracked and vetted these data distortions, using published accounts, NGO reports and government documents. What we present to you today is by no means an exhaustive list. Instead, it’s a chilling collection of the Trump administration’s most consequential and well-documented assaults on science—and reality itself.
Thanks for reading and take care,
Enterprise Director, HuffPost