News & Politics

Bloomberg News Botches Attack on Trump Over Refugees

A Bloomberg editorial signed by the publication’s editors slammed the Trump administration after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced two weeks ago a reduction in the number of refugees to be admitted in the new fiscal year, which began yesterday. The editorial negatively contrasted the Trump administration policy to that of former president Ronald Reagan.

However, the editorial falsely claimed that Ronald Reagan had admitted 207,000 refugees in 1980. Reagan was not inaugurated until January 1981.

And it turns out that Jimmy Carter, not Reagan, had admitted the 207,000 refugees. Reagan’s administration actually enacted a policy just like Trump’s: He significantly reduced the number of refugees admitted. In fact, Reagan cut the number by nearly two-thirds during his first term in office.

Bloomberg corrected the error in the editorial after getting called out about it over the weekend. However, Bloomberg still has tweets posted pushing the bogus information.

The September 19 editorial, “Trump’s Refugee Stance is a Disgrace,” pointed to Reagan’s example to attack the Fiscal Year 2019 ceiling of 30,000 refugees.

Even two weeks later, Bloomberg is still pushing the false Reagan claim:

Among those who called Bloomberg out on their error was Rob O’Neill, the U.S. Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden:

Of course, the problem with their earlier tweet wasn’t simply getting the year Reagan took office wrong. The major problem was that the refugee numbers they attribute to Reagan occurred under his predecessor, an error they continued to maintain in their “correction” tweet:

Eleven days after publication, Bloomberg finally corrected their article:

According to the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center, the 207,116 refugees were admitted during the last full fiscal year of the Carter administration.

The Center’s historical trend data shows that in Reagan’s first year in office (FY 1981), he slashed refugee admissions by nearly 50,000 to 159,252.

In FY1982, admissions by the Reagan administration had been cut by more than 60,000 to 98,096. The following year (FY1983), the number had dropped to 61,218 — more than a two-thirds reduction from FY1980.

Presumably, Bloomberg’s editors wanted to use the bogus Reagan admissions to bash fellow Republican Trump’s policies.

Such reductions in refugees admitted are not without precedent.

Immediately following 9/11, the Bush administration cut admissions to 27,131 in FY2002 and 28,403 in FY2003. Those numbers didn’t get above 60,000 until the very last year of George W. Bush’s administration (FY2008: 60,191).

Bloomberg also fails to acknowledge that, in that same announcement by Secretary of State Pompeo, the administration stated its intention to process 280,000 new asylum seekers in FY2019.

As Pompeo noted in his press conference, one of the reasons for the reduction in the refugee ceiling is because of the increase of asylum seekers showing up at our ports of entry. The State Department has more than 800,000 asylum seekers with unadjudicated claims in addition to the 280,000 they plan to process this year.

I recently noted here that there are legitimate grounds for criticizing the Trump administration’s refugee policies, namely the failure to give Middle East Christians priority as promised by Trump himself.

But as the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees statistics show, the United States is still the world’s leader in refugee admissions even after the ceiling reductions made by the Trump administration. And the U.S. is still the world’s leader in foreign assistance and aid.

That’s a record that is hardly a “disgrace.”