Bad Samaritan: The Episcopal Migration Ministries
“But a Samaritan, as
he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw
him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged
his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man
on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of
him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave
them to the innkeeper. `Look after him` he said, and
when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra
expense you may have.`” Luke 10:33-35.
Were the parable of the
Good Samaritan to be told about the refugee industry
today, it would end something like this:
“And he returned to the
inn keeper and explained that
all costs for care of the man would be the
responsibility of the inn keeper and that he, the
Samaritan, would be submitting his own bill as well to
the inn keeper for time and expense incurred bringing
the man to the inn. Furthermore, the Samaritan
explained, he had just hired a man whose job it was to
bring more needy individuals to the inn. Of course,
the inn keeper would be expected to cover this man`s
It would require a book to trace the degeneration of
America`s refugee agencies from self-supporting,
responsible, self-sacrificing charities into
money-grubbing federal contractors willing to steal food
from African refugees. But even a brief glance at one of
the refugee industry`s scams raises the question of how
it can possibly maintain even a shred of credibility in
the immigration debate.
Officially, refugees are supposed to pay back the
interest-free loans that pay for their air travel to the
U.S. from their country of residence. Actually, the
entire loan amount comes originally from the U.S.
taxpayer—and is regularly not repaid. But the “loans”
allow the refugee industry and its mouthpieces in the
MSM to trumpet its financial prudence.
As of 2002, about 43 percent of all travel loans were
unpaid, leaving a balance due of $436.5 million—perhaps
as much as 1 billion in today`s dollars. Approximately
64% of loans made in the 1980s are uncollected. It`s
safe to say they will remain so.
The MSM describes refugee resettlement as a `public/private`
partnership. But in reality, travel loan collection is
just another way the refugee agencies make money. They
pocket 25 percent of what they collect from the
refugees, ostensibly to cover their overhead.
One example: The following letter is a recent attempt
from the Controller`s Office of the Episcopal Church to
collect on a $5,000 travel bill from a
Somali Bantu family of 8, in the country for about a
year. The father has a part-time, near minimum wage job
and is the only family member with a job.
“The deferment granted to
you expired…. However you did not resume payments as
agreed. We, the travel loan staff, are dedicated to
assist you as much as possible. In turn, we expect your
honest cooperation… Unless we hear from you in the next
3 weeks, your account until now reported as `good` will
be reported as `delinquent` to TransUnion, a
national credit bureau. Your failure to contact us
and honor your obligation will affect your credit
rating. To protect your credit, please resume payments
by sending regular and monthly installments…“
These threatening letters, in English with the
heading “Protect Your Credit“, now arrive
regularly from the Episcopal Church for this illiterate
family—which prior to arrival in the U.S. may never have
even seen a clock or operated
a door knob, let alone worried about a credit
To pick just one of the many ironies in this story:
- First of all,
Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), the
contracting arm of the church, is part of a lobbying
lobbies (from offices partly paid for by the US
taxpayer) for enforcement of
Clinton Executive Order 13166, requiring all
federally funded services to be provided in the
language of the service recipient.
- Secondly, The U.S. government pays EMM to
translate its brochures into the Bantu`s
- Therefore, the Episcopal Church`s English-only
dunning letters may be in violation of civil rights
law, not to speak of human decency and common sense.
And, of course, hypocritical
Note that the Episcopal Church is dunning these
refugees for its own benefit. If the refugees pay, the
Church gets its cut. If they do not pay, the taxpayer
gets to eat the whole bill.
Would it be too much to ask the mainline religious
organizations whose agencies `sponsor` the
refugees to at least pay back the travel loans when the
refugees do not? The cost of repaying the travel loans
are pennies out of the agencies` pockets when compared
to the taxpayer`s total burden for the refugee program.
And that`s just one example. With each step in the
refugee program`s evolution, the refugee agencies (known
Volags from “voluntary agency“) have found
new ways to make more money and shirk more
When refugee numbers went down after 9/11, the Volags
claimed they were having a hard time covering staff
salaries. So, they convinced the State Department to pay
directly the salaries of all staffers involved in
refugee resettlement at Volag headquarters in Washington
and New York.
Many of these staffers arrived as refugees
themselves. They are actually being paid—and now by the
taxpayer—to fill out the paperwork needed to invite
relatives over on the refugee program.
Also in response to the post-911 lull, the State
Department offered to temporarily “reprogram”
money from domestic resettlement to overseas
resettlement, where it can be literally 50 times more
effective because of lower costs, to say nothing of
idea was angrily rejected at a January 2002
consultation with the Volags. So, basically, the Volags
denied food aid to
overseas refugee camps in order preserve their
income stream from taxpayer money.
And yet, Episcopal Migration Ministries likes to say
the refugee quota of 70,000 is
“the beginning of the end to US hospitality to
Despite the fact that refugee numbers are going back
up—the Bush administration is committed to reaching
90,000 per year—and money is flowing in again from other
taxpayer-funded programs, the salary support program
is still in place. It`s become another permanent
responsibility of the taxpayer.
But nothing should be a surprise from the Refugee
Industry any more.
Look at some more of the ways EMM has already earned
money from its delinquent Bantu family:
- A State Department grant funded at $850 per
refugee brought in—$6,800 total)—only half of which
EMM has to show actually went to the family itself.
The rest can be imputed to “administrative
overhead.” (And remember, headquarters refugee
staffing is already paid for by the taxpayer).
- The family`s eight members allow EMM to submit a
bill to the Department of Health and Human Services
of up to $14,400 in the multi-layered fraud known as
the “Matching Grant Program.”
This Matching Grant Program takes a double shot at
the U.S. Treasury. First, a donor takes an inflated tax
write-off for a used car or couch donated to EMM. Then
the hospitable EMM gives the
couch or car to a refugee and turns to the
government to collect a cash equivalent for in-kind
assistance. EMM can net up to $1,800 in this manner from
each refugee on its books, including children.
Some Volags` operations resemble highly profitable
used car lots. At least one,
Catholic Social Services in Lincoln, Nebraska, was
flipping so many cars it had to register with the state
as a used car dealership.
Volags wade deeply in the growing river of federal
grants. They seem to be the first ones on the scene
whenever a new grant initiative is announced: “ownership
“marriage initiative” grants, “faith-based
organization” grants, “community-based”
grants, “individual development account”
grants—no matter how irrelevant, no grant is off limits.
The Bush administration regularly announces through a
megaphone that its job is to hand out money, not to
monitor how it is spent. For refugee-specific grants
there is already an entire grant-giving office in the
DHHS, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Much of
its $550 million budget is doled out on a per refugee
basis to Volags like EMM. A constantly revolving door
connects ORR with the recipients of its largesse.
The Volags make their money
helping refugees move to the U.S., not helping them
once they are here.
For the refugees, all federal welfare programs are
available 30 days after arrival—including the
lifetime entitlement SSI.
I often hear from volunteers about refugees who are “dumped”
on welfare and then “abandoned” by the Volags,
who are off lobbying for more money and an increase in
the refugee influx.
In fact, the Volags` contractual responsibility for
individual refugees ends just three months after the
refugee arrives if the refugee has relatives already in
the U.S.—which most do. From this comes that most
puzzling of all MSM myths: that the “refugees are on
their own after 90 days.” If the refugee is arriving
without relatives already here, the contractual
responsibility lasts 6 months. When that responsibility
ends, the Volags aren`t even required to know where
their charges live.
Apparently, that`s what the “public/private”
partnerships mean today.
Final word: With renewed growth and changing
demographics in the refugee resettlement population, I
was curious about changes in the travel loan program. Of
the dozens of complex and inventive mechanisms that make
this industry go around, it is the simplest to explain,
track and understand. So I did a little investigating.
According to a State Department spokesperson, the
high loan delinquency statistics from 2002 are roughly
unchanged as of today, except of course the balance due,
which keeps going up.
But, none of this is known for certain—because
delinquency rates have not been tracked and compiled
According to the official, Congress is
no longer interested in knowing about them…except
occasionally when a Congressman gets involved to adjust
the bad credit of a delinquent refugee constituent.
Unless Congress redefines the balance of
responsibility between the “public” and the “private”
in the refugee program, the taxpayer responsibility will
only grow more and more out of control. Until then, the
Bad Samaritan will continue taking advantage of the
The chief Bad Samaritan at
Episcopal Migration Ministries is Director C.
him) is a recovering refugee worker.