How resettlement contractors get federal bucks (a series)

LOL! I hope I can stick with doing a series because juicy fresh news is so much more fun to write about. But here goes….

Money machine

I’m sure many of you wonder how the resettlement contractors, the nine*** I always mention, end up with millions and millions of taxpayer dollars when they are paid by the head to resettle refugees.

You have probably noticed that the per head payment doesn’t seem to match up with the millions each get from the US Treasury.

Well, let me tell you, that per head payment from the US State Department is only half of the story!  The great variety of lucrative grants they are eligible for from the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Health and Human Services supply the rest!

(I sure hope the Trump Administration is squeezing them financially at HHS!)

It’s been years (in some cases) since I talked about the grants available to contractors for administering such things as special federally matched savings accounts, planting community gardens, educating refugees about how to have healthy marriages, or to promote ethnically appropriate daycare for Somalis and others.

Today I want to talk about the vaguely described grant program called “PREFERRED COMMUNITIES” which I see as just an excuse, with no legal basis, to send the big nine more of your money!

When you visit ORR’s website today you get this very cursory description of what it means to get a Preferred Community Grant:

Since the early 1990s, preferred communities have provided resettlement services to newly arriving refugees. Preferred communities allow ample opportunities for early employment and sustained economic independence. In addition, they support special needs populations.

Two types of preferred communities programs are available:

~Programs that receive a minimum of 100 new refugees annually.

~Programs that receive a proposed number of cases that will need intensive case management. These programs require a history of qualifications and experience in serving special needs cases.

By the way, only the usual gang of nine*** are eligible to apply. 

To receive your millions through a Preferred Communities grant a contractor must say they are using the money to resettle challenging and needy cases in certain cities. We are no longer told which cities are PREFERRED. 

Again, there is nothing in refugee law requiring a grant like this. The grant is simply an excuse to send more of your money to the contractors!

Go here to see how many millions were awarded for the Preferred Communities just as Obama was headed out the door in September 2016. (There are no newer grants posted? Has Trump cut them off or is the ORR not publishing them?).

Does anyone audit these grants?

Which cities?

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But, here is the head-scratcher for me.  Up until Fiscal Year 2013 we could learn a lot more about who was getting the extra millions and why.

Back in 2013, we were also told which cities were PREFERRED! 

What follows are sections from the FY13 ORR Annual Report to Congress. That is the last year they published (in a report to Congress) a list of contractors identifying cities as PREFERRED.

See if your city is a PREFERRED city in which to place challenging cases requiring taxpayers to pony-up even more money for the contractors!

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Just fyi, Domestic and Foreign Mission Society is another name for Episcopal Migration Ministries.  One more way of making it hard to follow the money!

 

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I sure hope the Trump Administration is getting these grants and contracts under control!

 

***Here below are the nine federal refugee resettlement contractors.

You might be sick of seeing this list almost every day, but a friend once told me that people need to see something seven times before it completely sinks in, so it seems to me that 70, or even 700 isn’t too much!

And, besides I have new readers every day.

The present US Refugee Admissions Program will never be reformed if the system of paying the contractors by the head stays in place and the contractors are permitted to act as Leftwing political agitation groups, community organizers and lobbyists paid on our dime!

And, to add insult to injury they pretend it is all about ‘humanitarianism.’

The number in parenthesis is the percentage of their income paid by you (the taxpayer) to place the refugees into your towns and cities and get them signed up for their services (aka welfare)!  And, get them registered to vote eventually!

From my most recent accounting, here.  However, please see that Nayla Rush at the Center for Immigration Studies has done an update of their income!

 

More than half of refugees in US receive food stamps

That is from a recent Center for Immigration Studies report by Jason Richwine who analyzed the most recent Office of Refugee Resettlement Annual Report to Congress.

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https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/orr/arc_16_508.pdf

The news comes at a time when the President is deciding how many refugees could be admitted to the US in FY19 which begins on October first.

John Binder at Breitbart penned a short piece on the CIS study entitled:

More Than Half of Foreign Refugees Are on Taxpayer-Funded Food Stamps

 

More than half of the annual inflow of foreign refugees arriving in the United States are on food stamps, a government report reveals.

Since 2008, as Breitbart News reported, the U.S. has permanently resettled more than 1.7 million foreign nationals and refugees through a variety of humanitarian programs like the Special Immigrant Juveniles and the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act. This is a foreign population larger than Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — a city with more than 1.5 million residents.

An annual report by the Office of Refugee Resettlement was analyzed by the Center for Immigration Studies’ Jason Richwine, in which the analyst revealed that about 56 percent of households headed by foreign refugees who arrived in the U.S. between 2011 and 2015 are using taxpayer-funded food stamps.

Nearly 30 percent of refugees received cash welfare of some sort, while 34 percent of refugees 18-years-old or older said they had no health insurance. Of the refugees who said they did have health insurance, about 50 percent said they were either on Medicaid or Refugee Medical Assistance, both of which are taxpayer-funded.

More here.

Frankly I suspect the numbers are much worse.

The sampling used by the Office of Refugee Resettlement is tiny and dependent on how many of the refugees they can find via phone calls and how many will even participate by answering questions if they are found.

A large number are not even participating in the survey because of language barriers.

We have told you about the Annual Reports for years. Here is just one post in 2013 where we reported that food stamp use was 70% in Obama’s first year in office—2009!

Even in spite of the possible under counting in the welfare use sections, the reports are treasure troves of information for those of you trying to better understand how the refugee program works and what it might be doing to your towns and cities.

One of the things you will see in the reports is information on how many other grants and goodies the contractors receive over and above their per refugee head payment.

The US is no doubt importing poverty, something that the designers of the original Refugee Act of 1980 promised would not happen.

And, if you are saying to yourselves that new immigrants aren’t supposed to be eligible for welfare, remember that prohibition does not apply to refugees!

Below is the table from the 2016 Annual Report:

 

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SNAP is of course food stamps. Note that nearly 20% receive Social Security disability benefits—yikes!
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Next after food stamps, taxpayers fund medical care for a very large percentage of refugees.

 

Just so you know we admitted 69,933 refugees to the US in FY2015 and for the whole accounting period above (FY11 through FY15) the total was 324,508 according to data at Wrapsnet.

Cutting numbers is a good start and we applaud the President, but the whole program must be reformed.

Do it now!

Contact the White House and tell the President what you think! See contact link in right hand sidebar here at RRW.

What does the Refugee Admissions timeline look like for the remainder of 2017 and in to 2018?

And, what more can President Donald Trump do?

If today is the first day you ever began to try to understand the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program, I’m going to walk you through from where we are.

Presumably you are here because you heard that President Donald Trump announced a 120-day moratorium on the USRAP beginning next Thursday (March 16th).  And, let’s assume that activist groups will be unable to stop it in the courts, see here.

LOL! This is going to be long! Serious students of the USRAP, continue reading…..

We will start our timeline by explaining that planning for the upcoming fiscal year (FY2018) is happening now over the next few months and culminates in September….

In September, the President submits a “determination” to Congress with the number of refugees that could be admitted (and regions from which they will come) in the upcoming fiscal year.  Right now we are in FY2017 which began on October 1, 2016 and runs to September 30, 2017.  The number he chooses is a CEILING, it is not a target!

President Obama in his last months in office set the CEILING at 110,000 for the year FY2017 (most of a year in which he would not be in office). It grates me to see stories like this from a Nebraska newspaper that says Trump is bringing in less than half of what Obama brought in!  Obama had never set a CEILING that high in his previous seven years! In his highest year (2016) he brought in just short of 85,000.

Congress’ only role is to “consult.”  I have followed the USRAP since 2007 and up until 2 years ago, I was not aware of any interest by Congress (House or Senate) to do anything. Perhaps there was “consultation” behind the scenes.  Early on I asked my Congressman to help me attend a “consultation,” but I was told the public could not attend. I suspected it was because there was nothing much to attend!

The “determination” is sent to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees and someone from the US State Department goes to The Hill with the letter and report prepared by the Department of State (you can see last year’s here).

The Refugee Act of 1980 does mention Congressional hearings on the “determination,” and to his credit, Senator Jeff Sessions held two very good hearings in 2015 and 2016.

I shouldn’t have said “only role” for Congress is consultation because they do hold the ultimate card—funding! The USRAP could be seriously curtailed through the Appropriations process (something I have discussed at length in my tag ‘Where is Congress‘).  Trump could control the program through his budget too!

And, I am going to argue below that Congress, if it had the guts, could reform the whole program.

Department of State Public hearings were a sham!

In preparation for the ‘determination,’ the US Department of State holds (held!) a ‘hearing’ of sorts to supposedly gather information from interested parties about how many and which ethnic groups we should admit in the upcoming fiscal year. That ‘hearing’ happens (happened!) usually in May.

However, during my years, I’ve watched what was a stacked hearing (dominated by refugee resettlement contractors) to begin with become a nothing-hearing by last year.

The first year I attended the meeting/hearing was fairly large—maybe 100 people in a room in Northern Virginia.  It was a parade of those who were being paid to resettle refugees before a panel that included bureaucrats from the Dept. of State, ORR (in Health and Human Services) and USCIS. They all asked for more refugees and more ethnic groups (notably the Rohingya of Burma/Bangladesh).

After that year, readers of RRW began sending in testimony and more of us with concerns who lived locally attended, until 2014 when the meeting was tiny, held in the US State Dept. with security screening, and was dominated by those of us with problems with the program.  Most of the contractors mailed in their testimony!

Here is the testimony I sent (or delivered in person) each year.

They thumbed their noses at the citizens with concerns!

And, finally, in 2015 there was no public hearing at all! Why? I am sure it is because they didn’t like what they were hearing! They only took written testimony that was not available to the public!

Here is what I said last May:

If you would like to see what some of your fellow critics of the program said in the past, go here, here and here (when you click each of these, scroll down for all the posts in the category). These are our archives for any discussion of hearing years 2012 (for FY13), 2013 (for FY14), and 2014 (for FY15).  The only reason we obtained any of that testimony is that some of you sent it to us and we attended the hearings in person and were given the testimony.

That testimony is not made public because secrecy has always been the watchword of the program!

I doubt that any Member of Congress or Senator has ever attempted to make that testimony public and I’d bet a million bucks (if I had it!) that no Members/Senators have ever asked for that testimony! Shameful!

Hold field hearings!

If Donald Trump’s Administration is serious about reforming the USRAP (and not just temporarily reducing the numbers), his DOS should hold field hearings in refugee overloaded cities!

Any Member of Congress or US Senator could do the same!  (I can help guide anyone who wants to hold such hearings to the troubled communities.)

Right now Secretary of State Rex Tillerson must depend on career State Department officials like Henshaw who we presume likes the USRAP the way it had operated for decades.

Right now you can assume that any planning for FY18 is being done by career bureaucrats and an acting Asst. Secretary of State (Henshaw here).   The Trump team has apparently not selected an Asst. Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, an appointment that requires Senate approval.

Of course right now, I suspect the careers are all in disarray and figuring out how to get the last refugees in to the US before the moratorium that begins on the 16th.

This morning we are at 37,425 admitted so far (again Trump’s CEILING is 50,000).  Trump has no legal obligation to reach the CEILING.

Will there be hearings in May?  Who knows!

But….

Planning for the annual determination (for FY18) will begin in your local community (but you won’t know it!) soon.

The local subcontractors (of the nine major contractors) will, in late spring/early summer, be preparing those very secretive documents called R & P Abstracts.  To learn what they are click here for our complete archive on ABSTRACTS.

Those documents list what refugees your community could support (numbers and ethnic groups).  It will give the amenities your town has available—medical care, housing, jobs, education system, etc—for refugees!  It is a document we maintain should be available to you—local taxpayers—BEFORE it goes to Washington!

The R & P Abstracts go to the US State Department and are used to determine how much money will be spent for refugees and will be used to make the President’s “determination” to be sent to Congress in September.

Stakeholder meetings!

The bureaucrats of the refugee industry at the DOS and the ORR will tell the Trump people that there is public input, that they hold quarterly “stakeholder” meetings, and the Trump people will not know what a sham this is.

They will trot out their ‘stakeholder’ meetings as an example (here is one post on those) of how transparent they are with the communities they are targeting.  But, you need to know that unless you are watching closely and demanding public admission to those meetings, they are dominated by the subcontractors (list here), and various branches of local government.  Elected officials who oppose more resettlement will be excluded. And, taxpaying citizens in most places are not considered ‘stakeholders’ and have no role in the preparation of the planning documents.

Back to the 120-day Moratorium which puts us into mid-July, leaving only half of July, August and September to reach the 50,000 CEILING.

This is what John Podesta’s Center for American Progress was tweeting out yesterday to show why the USRAP might in fact be dead for the entire fiscal year.

Again, today we are already at 37,425.

Depending on who is chosen for Asst. Sec. for PRM and for the Director of the ORR (in Health and Human Services), they may or may not be able to gear-up for a huge number of refugees because the process abroad is pretty time-consuming.

The contractors’ fears (and the Open Border advocates like CAP at left) are that the flow cannot get moving with only 2 and 1/2 months left in the fiscal year.

If you have made it this far through this long post, the point I am getting to is this: What will Donald Trump do for FY2018 which is rapidly approaching?

He can set the CEILING low (we don’t consider 50,000 low! See here.).  He can make regulatory changes to make the program more transparent and involve state and local governments in the process.

But, will he pressure Congress to reform the law because only changing the law will assure that in 4 or 8 years we don’t go back to the same old flawed system!

Pens and phones only last so long as the particular President is in power! If the USRAP is not reformed legislatively (I would get rid of the whole VOLAG system of paid refugee contractors) then there is no real reform.

Right now, during a Trump presidency, is the only opportunity we will probably ever have to rein-in and reform the out-of-control Refugee Admissions Program. By 2018 everyone will be looking to the next election and nothing will get done!

Endnote:  If you missed it, see my post yesterday where I suggested that if you live in a state where state legislators are having problems with the program, you must convince them to call Sec. of State Tillerson and ask to meet him and tell him the problems at the state level!

They should go in with one message: Yes, do as much regulatory reform as possible, but Trump must pressure Congress to repeal and re-write the law (assuming some refugee program will be needed).

Unaccompanied refugee minors program, small but could grow

Two days ago we reported that Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) had introduced a bill in the waning days of the Congress to admit 25,000 Syrian ‘orphans’ to the US.

So I found this story interesting and something you should know about.  We do have a program for ‘unaccompanied refugee minors’ not to be confused with the ‘unaccompanied alien children’ flooding across our southern border at the moment (and for the last few years).  The refugee minors program is for children who are deemed refugees (not the phony asylum seekers from Central America).   Although I think the reporter in the story at US News has the efforts confused.

Or, is it possible that the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement really has no authority to pay out over a billion dollars a year for those illegal alien children and is doing it under this one?

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I don’t know if these formal refugee minors programs are also taking care of the tens of thousands of unaccompanied alien children (who are not legitimate refugees!). If your state has a program, you might add this to your investigative work. How many of the refugee ‘children’ are being cared for in your state? Are they all legitimate refugees? Does the program cost state and local taxpayers anything? When they become 18, what happens to them?

This news says they (resettlement agency reps) can find very few truly ‘unaccompanied’ children from Syria (although they are looking!) because most, if separated, quickly find parents or family members who take them in. This makes me wonder why Rep. Honda felt there was a need to bring in 25,000 orphaned Syrian children on a “temporary” basis.

From US News:

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, or LIRS, and eight other refugee resettlement groups have worked with the federal government to resettle roughly 17,000 Syrian refugees, including many children within family units, since the conflict broke out in the country in 2011. But of those, the State Department says only one has been a minor without a parent or guardian to care for him or her. Out of privacy concerns, they could give no details about the minor.

The U.S. has the capacity to accept more orphans from the war-ravaged country, Haynes and other experts say. It’s just that for now – as jarring as it might sound while Aleppo’s trapped children plead for help – there aren’t many Syrian minors who qualify for this particular form of assistance.

The Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program in the United States is the only formal program in the world that is specifically designed to bring unaccompanied refugee children into a unique domestic foster care system, says Haynes. Since its founding after the Vietnam War, the program has accepted about 13,000 minors. It’s a relatively small program, admitting about 200 children last year.

The system gives refugees access to all the support available in the regular foster care system, but also provides additional assistance for things like language training and mental health services. It’s a federally funded program, and like all refugee resettlement services, can be changed or terminated at the whim of the president.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service monopolize this federal grant program.

Children can come into the program a range of ways. They’re frequently referred by United Nations refugee agency partners based in other countries. In other scenarios, they’ve crossed the southern border and are classified as victims of trafficking or asylum seekers. LIRS works with another group, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to place the children. The program prioritizes family reunification, meaning officials try to place minors with relatives who are able and willing to care for them before putting them in the foster care system.

Now, pay attention to this! Once the ‘unaccompanied’ refugee reaches the age of 18, he she doesn’t leave, but can apply for family members to come to America!

Ensuring that minors are truly unaccompanied takes time, she says. And once they qualify and arrive in the U.S., they can’t apply for any family member to join them in the U.S. until after they are 18.

Continue reading here.

Senate voted (and Obama signed) the Continuing Budget Resolution overnight, refugee program comes up short

The federal government will continue to be funded mostly at the Fiscal Year 2016 level until late April.  The budget extension had passed the House earlier in the week and the Senate voted last night to send the bill to Obama’s desk.

Many Dems were unhappy because instead of funding the government for the year—until September 30th—the whole issue will be revisited in the spring.  The election of Donald Trump was pretty much the deciding factor and this short term fix gives the Trump team time to get in place and put their funding priorities in the mix.

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Elections have consequences as Congress defers to Trump’s wish to weigh in on the federal budget for a portion of FY17. Funding=policy.

You can read about the final vote here at The Hill.

For our purposes (we have been writing about the issue of funding for the Refugee program for months), the results are good news.

Last week we reported that the Obama Administration was looking for billions in additional funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement claiming that if they didn’t get their big tranche of money, ORR would go broke in February.

Well they didn’t get most of it which should make it even easier for Trump to stop or significantly slow the flow of refugees after January 20th since clearly the Congress is signalling that there is not much support for the high level of refugees that Obama wanted and surely Hillary would have enthusiastically supported had she won the election in November.

Obama’s 110,000 refugee goal for this year will now (in my opinion) be out of reach.

Here is what Numbers USA is reporting:

Fri, Dec 9th

The House overwhelmingly approved, with bipartisan support, a short-term spending bill yesterday without any significant changes to the refugee program and without expanding the H-2B guest-worker program.

[…..]

The short-term spending bill would fund the government through late-April, so there will likely be another battle then. But negotiations will be with a different administration that’s more focused on eliminating fraud within the refugee program and protecting the jobs and wages of American workers.

We faced two threats with this week’s fight. First, back in September, Pres. Obama demanded an increase in funding for the refugee program to accommodate an additional 25,000 refugees over last year’s already inflated numbers. The White House more recently requested a doubling of refugee funding through the short-term spending bill. The money not only would pay for the additional refugees, but would house and resettle across the U.S. the thousands of border surgers who have illegally entered the U.S. in recent months.

Congress added a small increase in refugee funding, but none of the additional funds can be used to resettle new refugees in the United States nor can they be used by the Obama Administration to house and resettle the border surgers.

The budget battle will now resume in the spring—a battle which could be significantly less important for us if Trump acts on his campaign promise to halt refugee admissions from terror-producing countries—which is about half of the flow coming in right now.

This is strange…..

I searched around this morning to see if the VOLAGs (refugee contractors) or their lobbyists were wailing, but am not seeing anything. Delayed reaction? Maybe they had some leftover funds sloshing around? But, they have already said they don’t!

Keep me posted if you see anything.

What you might see before I do is some local news reports that say that the opening of a new resettlement site is being ‘delayed.’

This post and all posts on the budget process are tagged ‘Where is Congress.’

For refugee program, we need something more than Inspector General Hotlines!

Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (PRNewsFoto/Office of Inspector General Department of Health and Human Services)

From time to time I hear from people who have some waste, fraud, or abuse they want to report involving the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program (RAP).

You do know that both the US State Department and the Dept. of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Office of Refugee Resettlement, have Inspector General Offices.

Those offices have hotlines where you can report something you think is illegal/wasteful or flat out a fraud.  I am told by people in government that those OIGs are decent watchdogs and shouldn’t be feared.

But, we need something more!

Someone (maybe the new Trump Administration) could create a hotline that would address many other concerns, for reporting things like the following:

~For reports of waste, fraud or abuse of taxpayer dollars relating to the RAP witnessed in local communities when it is not clear if it is federal or state/local funds being potentially misused.

~For whistleblowers who work, or have worked, for a resettlement agency (public or private) and have witnessed something that they feel must be reported, but fear for their jobs.

~For unhappy refugees who might want to go home.

Just a thought!

In the meantime, if you have unearthed something potentially fraudulent as you investigate your local refugee program, try the following Inspector General Office hotlines:

US Dept. of State is here (the DOS does the initial work of hiring the contractors and distributing the refugees).

And, HHS fraud hotline, is here (the Office of Refugee Resettlement distributes millions in grants to non-profits which pay for much of their office/staff etc.).

Endnote:  I had to make a new tag, I had all sorts of frauds (food stamps, immigration etc), but needed a general ‘fraud’ tag.

Will Rep. Tom Price rein-in refugee program, so far no sign he is inclined that way

Readers here at RRW know that the Dept. of Health and Human Services isn’t just about Obamacare.  For us, it is the agency that does most of the spending on refugees and those so-called unaccompanied alien children we just told you about in the previous post.

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Rep. Tom Price, Trump’s pick for HHS Secretary

Here is The Seattle Times educating its readers about HHS’s role involving immigration via its sub-agency the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

The examples given here of Trump nominee Georgia Rep. Tom Price’s (a medical doc btw) earlier positions on the subject of refugees doesn’t look very reassuring to me.  So, if any of you know things about Price that would give us confidence he might draw in the reins on the RAP, let me know!

And, correct me if I am wrong!

In my earlier post this morning, I noted he did not back Rep. Babin on his bill.

The Seattle Times:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The congressman named by Donald Trump to oversee the country’s health care system would also have an impact on another top issue: immigration.

It’s an area where Georgia Republican Tom Price has been at odds with the Obama administration.

If Price is confirmed by the Senate to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, he would head an office responsible for both resettling refugees in the United States and caring for immigrant children caught trying to cross the border on their own.

The five-term lawmaker has joined his Republican colleagues in objecting to President Barack Obama’s immigration enforcement policies, including those at the border. He co-sponsored a bill that sought to let states block Syrian refugees from settling in their communities. (I’m assuming they mean McCaul’s toothless bill, mentioned here at Breitbart)

Continue here.

And, again, if anyone has anything that would give us confidence that Price would be willing to dramatically decrease the budget at HHS for the Refugee Admissions Program and turn off its giant grantmaking machine, send it my way!

On the grants:  There are millions of dollars of grants that ORR hands out to contractors that have no basis in the law—crazy stuff like those grants for planting refugee gardens for example!