State Department to change travel fee repayment plans
Posted by Ann Corcoran on March 20, 2012
Your tax dollars!
Before I post this article about how the State Department is planning to revamp its travel fee repayment plan, ponder this! Refugees are required to almost immediately begin paying back the funds they “borrowed” for their family’s airfare to the US. They arrive here with, in many cases, no English language skills, they can’t find work, and they live on welfare and in subsidized housing, but to teach them “financial responsibility” we begin sending them dunning letters almost immediately (and in many cases they can’t read them!) for the airfare loan.
And, that is not even the bad part. The shocking part is that instead of being required to pay the taxpayer back (even if they could) the federal contractors like Catholic Charities get a cut (25 % if I recall correctly) to wring this money out of people on welfare.
As it was explained to me by a State Department official in 2007—we (the State Dept) would have to hire a collection agency to get the money back, so we might as well let the federal contractor get the money out of them.
Before you read on, one such contractor is the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Visit the US Conference of Catholic Bishops 2010 Annual Report (p. 12) and note that in their revenue stream for that year, they have listed $3,166,625 from COLLECTION FEES ON TRAVEL LOANS! The USCCB, one of the largest resettlement agencies, is contracted to resettle refugees by the head and then on top of that they get this little extra bonus from your tax dollars.
Now, here is the article from the Philadelphia Inquirer (Hat tip: Joanne):
Rescuing refugees fleeing homelands rent by war, natural disaster, and repression is a lofty American tradition – one that since 1980 has given more than 3 million of the world’s most vulnerable immigrants passage to a new life.
Delivered from teeming camps, they land in the United States with few possessions, meager job skills, and problems with English. They also arrive with the little-known obligation to repay Washington for their airfare.
In the land of the free, they are instant debtors.
They must begin reimbursing the federal government after five months, and pay in full within 42 months. They are warned that credit bureaus are kept apprised of their punctuality, or lack of it.
“Our goal is not to care for them in . . . perpetual victimhood,” said David Robinson, acting assistant secretary of state for population, refugees, and migration, which oversees the program. Loans tell them “it’s not a one-way street.”
Refugee advocates, who give orientations on financial literacy even before the displaced leave the camps, agree the program teaches a critical lesson in responsible borrowing. But criticism has mounted that it also imposes too heavy a burden on families already weighed down by multiple disadvantages.
So the State Department is planning the first significant changes to the Travel Loan Program in its 32-year history. Beginning in October, those owing the most money will see their monthly payments capped according to a formula still under review.
The change will make the program “more equitable,” Robinson said. “In some cases, individually, the burden may [have been] too high.”
The federal government paid nearly $43 million in airfares last year, and so far has collected $1.7 million. [It’s not clear which year they are referring to here, but the USCCB collected over $3 million in 2010, above—ed]
Data released to The Inquirer last week by the International Organization for Migration, the intergovernmental group that dispenses the travel money, show that almost half the loans since 2002 – 45 percent – were not repaid during the prescribed 42 months. About 25 percent, or one in four families, is delinquent by 180 days or more.
This whole program is being run by people living in la-la land. How about this novel idea—if we can’t afford to do this (resettle impoverished people from the third world), we shouldn’t do it.
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