Paranoids Can Have Enemies. Refugee “False Rumors” Can Be True


The New York Times` trouble with the truth
extends

beyond
one reporter. In fact, if the Times
management succeeds in keeping blame focused on

Jayson Blair
alone, it will have pulled off a feat
second only to the fabrications of Mr. Blair himself.

Reporting last year about the influx of Somalis to
Lewiston, Maine, the Times` Pam Belluck wrote:

“Rumors began running
through this overwhelmingly

white working class city
after a stream of Somali
immigrants started arriving…. People whispered that
Somalis were getting free cars, courtesy of the
government, $10,000 grants, even free air-conditioners
and groceries”

“None of this was true,
but the intensity of the false rumors reflects the
distinct unease surrounding the sudden arrival of so
many Somalis to this fraying mill town”.

(Mixed
Welcome as Somalis Settle in a Maine City
, by
Pam Belluck, 10/15/02.
Used also as a
New
York Times`
lesson
plan”
for
schoolteachers, which is about what you`d expect
.]

Had the “intensity” of these “false rumors” aroused
even the slightest desire to find their source, we would
have learned that there is, in fact, a substantial basis
for many of the

rumors
about the refugee influx. (Most of the
Somalis arriving in Lewiston originally arrived as “refugees,”
though the local media originally portrayed them as
non-refugee immigrants.)

* Free groceries “courtesy of the government”?
According to government reports (latest ORR

Annual Report to Congress, 2000
), about

28.5%
 [Table 12] of recent African refugees receive

food stamps.
Could that be the source of those
“rumors”?

Indeed, a little more reporting would have revealed
that the 28.5% figure comes from a completely
voluntary
phone survey about the use of public
services. But refugees learn quickly that their
entitlements are not very popular with their neighbors
who are competing for the same dwindling public
services. And they also learn their survey answers are
not verified – and that there is no penalty for lying.
In all likelihood, the survey seriously understates the
actual usage of food stamps and

other public services.

* “Free cars” also “courtesy of the
government”?
Our journalistic investigators
could have stumbled upon the strange case of the refugee
resettlement organization with the used car dealer
license. “Free cars” at government expense are very much
a part of refugee resettlement.

It works like this: All non-governmental
organizations [NGOs] involved in settling refugees – the
so-called “refugee
contractors
” such as the Roman Catholic charities
and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society – are using the
incredible expanding

DHHS Office of Refugee Resettlement Matching Grant

program (ORRMG). Now 24 years old, the program was
started to encourage direct private giving to refugees.
It provided matching federal monies, first equaling and
eventually doubling every dollar provided by the NGO
refugee contractor.

“Matching grant” refugees are a subset of the
contractor`s refugee caseload. They have agreed to forgo
welfare (except for food stamps and

free medical care
) for 4 months while participating
in the program, which is oriented towards placing the
refugee in a job. But the

refugee contractors
tend to pick refugees who are
already job-ready. And, after just 4 months, the refugee
can leave the program and go on welfare anyway. In
total, the NGO refugee contractor can expect a cash
grant from the taxpayer up to a limit of $2,000 per
refugee – which can be multiplied by the number of refugees
participating in the program.

The refugee contractor`s staff salary and
administration overhead can be covered with this money.

And the NGO refugee contractor can put up only 20% of
its match in actual money – the rest can be donated
goods valued at, well, whatever they can get away with.

Enter the free cars. One of the most effective ways
for the refugee contractor to raise money is to buy cars
or receive them as

donations
. With a car valued at, say, $2,000 as its
“match,” the refugee contractor claims $4,000 from the
government – twice the value of its “contribution.” A refugee
receives a free car – presto, free cars at government
expense
. (And, in this case, the refugee contractor
must also show that it spent a whopping $400 in cash,
but that could be imputed overhead.)

Only about a third of recent refugees participated in
the ORRMG. I presume a minority received a free car. I
made several calls to the Office of Refugee Resettlement to
determine how many. But, apparently, no one at ORR knows
– even though, under ORRMG guidelines, the contractors
must show how they meet their “match” for each claim.

But we do know that Catholic Social Services in

Lincoln, Nebraska
is dealing in so many cars under
ORRMG it was required by the state to register as a used
car dealer!

With

refugee numbers down
in 2002 to less than 30,000,
you might expect the money handed out under ORRMG to
decline. But in 2000, ORRMG beneficiaries were expanded
to include successful asylum seekers and “Cuban/Haitian
entrants
” – bureaucratese for another class of
privileged immigrants who, like refugees, are eligible
for all forms of

welfare
upon arrival. Thus the refugee NGOs have
potentially picked up about 50,000 new cash-generating
clients a year.

To show how dramatically ORRMG has grown, consider
that 99,500 refugees arrived in 1995 and the program
paid out $27.5 million. In 2002, fewer than 30,000
refugees arrived – yet the program paid out $58.7
million. (See “ORR:
The history of the Matching Grant Program
“)

Catholic charities alone took in $17 million from
ORRMG.

It wouldn`t be surprising if there were “false
rumors” surrounding the refugee influx – because of our
intensely politically-correct

Big Media
. Its

tendentious reporting
often has an effect opposite
to the intended purpose. Many

media consumers
simply assume that that the real
story is the story that is

not
reported.

As of today, if I were to compare the average urban
legend with typical Big Media reporting on the same
subject, my bet would be on the legend.