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Bad Samaritan: The Episcopal Migration Ministries
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July 19, 2006, 05:00 AM
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"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 salary too."

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 rating.

To pick just one of the many ironies in this story:


  • Secondly, The U.S. government pays EMM to translate its brochures into the Bantu`s language.

  • 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 as Volags from "voluntary agency") have found new ways to make more money and shirk more responsibility.

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 cultural compatibility

But this 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 refugees".

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 society" grants, "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 since 2002.

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 taxpayer`s inn.

[VDARE.COM note: The chief Bad Samaritan at Episcopal Migration Ministries is Director C. Richard Perkins. Email him.]

Thomas Allen (email him) is a recovering refugee worker.