Your Tax Dollars At Work: Liberal religious organizations make amnesty pay
By James Simpson, Organization Trends, October 2014 (PDF to come)
Summary: The federal government is spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars a year to underwrite private care for persons who have entered the country illegally. Much of the money flows into religious nonprofits. The nation’s laws receive less consideration than the appeal of “free” government subsidies, and the causes and harms of illegal immigration are brushed aside.
Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama has aggressively sought amnesty for persons who are in America illegally. When an amnesty bill was not forthcoming from Congress, Obama began issuing directives to federal agencies that defied both federal law and the will of Congress. Deportations were curtailed, and in 2013 over 36,000 criminal aliens (as they are termed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE), including 193 murderers, were released from jail, ICE reports.
In June 2012, without congressional authorization, President Obama created a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Under DACA, persons in the country illegally who were born after June 16, 1981, and arrived in the United States before their sixteenth birthday may obtain work permits and permission to remain here for two years, and then reapply for an additional two years. DACA applicants must also meet additional criteria:
*Must have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007;
*Been present as of June 15, 2012, and when they applied for deferred action;
*Be currently in school, or have graduated from high school, or obtained a GED, or been honorably discharged from the military;
*Have not been convicted of certain criminal offenses;
*Been 30 years of age or younger as of June 15, 2012.
The problem is, if someone is here illegally, how does government verify many of these questions? In practical terms, DACA allows virtually any illegal resident who is approximately 30 years of age or younger to stay in the U.S. indefinitely. Furthermore, both in word and deed, this administration has sent an unmistakable message south: Come on up, you won’t be turned away.
Persons interviewed at the border frequently cite this reason for heading north. U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) confirmed this as well. In an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd this July, Inhofe stated that through Obama’s DACA program, Obama is essentially saying:
“‘Come here, we’ll take care of you,’ and they all believe this… I talked to them individually… All of them were programmed to say that they had relatives here, they’re invited to come up here, they’re going to stay here—at the same time the HHS says, ‘We’re not going to send them back.’ So long as they have that assurance, more are coming in.”
Beginning in 2012 persons began streaming into the country illegally. That stream has now become a flood. Most recent entrants are from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, a part of Central America also called the “Northern Triangle.” A quirk in the law that allows for immediate deportation of illegal youths from Mexico also creates a much more prolonged process for deporting those from “non-contiguous countries,” thus increasing their chances to obtain asylum.
A June 2014 ICE document leaked to the press revealed a dramatic acceleration in the number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) from these countries. In fiscal year 2011, ICE apprehended a total of 4,321 UAC. By FY 2013, that number had increased to 21,314. For FY 2014, the report projected 53,375 UAC crossing the border and 95,500 in 2015.
A more recent Customs and Border Protection (CBP) document reported even higher numbers. In 2013, there were 35,209 apprehensions of unaccompanied children, and in 2014 there have been 66,127 as of August 31.
According to the ICE document, fewer than 30 percent of the Northern Triangle “children” are between 10 and 14 years old. Half are males from 15 to 17 years old. Many of the male youths are gang members, including members of the notorious MS-13. The proportion of males, however, has decreased from 60 percent in 2013, and the proportion of females has increased from one in four to one in three. A rising number of these females are pregnant. Ninety-eight percent of these OTMs or “Other Than Mexican” youths are released from custody with a “notice to appear” in court for deportation hearings. They rarely do. In 2013, 0.1 percent were returned to their home countries.
But these unaccompanied children are only a part of the story. According to CBP, by the end of August, a total of 242,329 OTM illegal residents, including children, families, and others, had been apprehended on the southern border. Over 185,000 of these were apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley, a region at the southern tip of Texas encompassing the towns of Brownsville, McAllen, and Rio Grande City.
Both the White House and the press have claimed this mass influx is the result of extreme violence in Northern Triangle countries. But ICE credited a variety of factors, including economics, crime, job prospects, encouragement from family members in the U.S., and the perception that aliens would not be sent home if caught. This last reason is likely key. There has always been violence, crime, and economic hardship in those countries. And while it may have worsened in the past few years, only one thing has materially changed: the perception that America will welcome illegal border crossers.
In a recent WND interview with U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas), Chris Cabrera, vice president of National Border Patrol Council Local 3307, says that unaccompanied children have been coached on how to game the system. “The ‘magic words’ are something along the lines of ‘asylum,’ or ‘political asylum’ or to say ‘fighting in my home country,” he says. “They know these words … because we can’t send them home because it’s too dangerous back there.” He added, “Whether it’s the adults or the young kids, one thing we consistently hear is, ‘Obama will take care of us.’”
Promoting Food Stamps in Mexico
Judicial Watch discovered through Freedom of Information Act requests that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been aggressively promoting its food stamp program to illegal residents through Mexican consular offices. Even as far back as 2006, American taxpayers were financing television ads featuring the Mexican Consul urging them to sign up. In a 2012 letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) wrote, “It defies rational thinking, for the United States—now dangerously $16 trillion in debt—to partner with foreign governments to help us place more foreign nationals on American welfare…”
The Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder has promised legal assistance to underage illegals. Holder, who announced plans to step down last month, calls it “taking a historic step to strengthen our justice system and protect the rights of the most vulnerable members of society.” Illegal youths are also being offered “family planning services” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. An HHS press release states:
“Residential care providers are required to provide or arrange for the program required services in a manner that is sensitive to the age, culture, religion, dietary needs, native language, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other important individual needs of each UAC. All services and assessments are required to be administered for all UAC even if they are in ORR [Office of Refugee Resettlement] custody for a short period of time. Residential care providers are required to have the capacity to provide services in the language of the majority of UAC in their facility speak [sic].”
As of March 2014, the latest data available, 642,685 persons had been accepted for DACA status. These people have not been idle. A June 2014 survey of DACA participants conducted by the American Immigration Council yielded the following results:
* Found New Job 59%
* Obtained Driver’s Licence 57%
* Opened Bank Account 49%
* Obtained 1st Credit Card 33%
* Obtained Health Care 21%
These are not children. Children do not obtain driver’s licenses, jobs, credit cards, etc. And because of the Motor Voter law, many who receive driver’s licenses may now be registered to vote. While under DACA, their legal status is only temporary and the aliens cannot vote legally, some may vote anyway, as foreign nationals in many states already reportedly have. In Takoma Park, Maryland, for example, legal and illegal immigrants have been allowed to vote in city elections since 1992.
According to its public tax filings, the American Immigration Council (AIC) sponsoring that poll promotes “humane immigration policies” and “justice and fairness for immigrants under the law,” and it believes that “the dignity of the individual knows no boundary. Our nation’s moral and ethical values must be reflected in the way we welcome immigrants.” AIC received $2.9 million in donations in 2012 and spent 65.5 percent in salaries and benefits. The top four executives received a total of $487,000 (16.5 percent) of AIC income.
An examination of AIC’s donor list shows it to be firmly on the left. Here are some of its major funders:
*The Foundation to Promote Open Society – one of George Soros’s nonprofits (2011 net assets, $1 billion) that showers the Left with millions of his ill-gotten gains. ($250,000 since 2011)
*Ford Foundation – began creating the open borders movement in the 1950s. It is credited with founding the radical Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) in 1967, and turning the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) from a conservative group that helped Hispanics assimilate into just another radical leftist Hispanic grievance group. ($475,000 since 2010)
*J.M. Kaplan Fund (2012 assets $126 million) – founded with profits from Welch’s Grape Juice by J.M Kaplan, Welch’s president until 1952. According to DiscoverTheNetworks, Kaplan aggressively supports organizations seeking expanded rights for illegal foreign nationals. “The Kaplan Fund’s North American Migration Program calls for “the right of citizens of any member country of NAFTA … to reside and work in any other member country.” ($235,000 since 2009)
*Unbound Philanthropy – according to its website, this grantmaking foundation with headquarters in New York and London (2012 assets, $114 million) works to “transform long-standing but solvable barriers to migrants’ and refugees’ freedom and equity,” especially focusing on giving “Migrants and refugees … enforceable legal rights…” and working to “reform immigration policies.” It makes no distinction between legal immigrants, who have clear legal rights, and illegal aliens, who do not. ($225,000 since 2009)
AIC and other activists have been aggressively working to entrench illegal immigrants into communities nationwide, making it that much harder to dislodge them. Meanwhile, activists lobby for more benefits and build momentum for amnesty. Indeed, AIC urges DACA participants to reapply, now that the program is two years old, and adds that “90 percent said that someone in their family would benefit [from amnesty]. “Immigration is a family affair,” writes AIC, “and providing relief to family members is critical to the success of DACAmented young adults.”
“Family affair” is an apt description. The media focus on unaccompanied children is a bald deception. Most are not unaccompanied, coming with one or both parents, or as part of an entire family. As noted earlier, total apprehensions from Northern Triangle states total 227,279, which is vastly more than the 50,000-plus illegal unaccompanied youths the media focuses on. And these were only the ones caught.
For perspective, the Border Patrol apprehended a total of 414,397 illegals on the Southwest Border in 2013. Given the explosive increase of border crossings in 2014, the total should be much higher this year. In July Frederick County, Maryland Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and others made a fact-finding tour to McAllen, Texas, to witness the crisis firsthand and speak with border officials. According to Jenkins, the Border Patrol claims it is apprehending about 70 percent of border crossers. However, former Border Patrol supervisory agent Zach Taylor, chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, has said that the Border Patrol is only catching about 10 percent of the illegals. So depending upon whom you believe, in 2014 alone, somewhere between an additional 120,000 to over 2 million persons have arrived.
According to the Daily Caller, unaccompanied youths are being housed in public and private facilities, while children who were accompanied by adults have been transported by bus or air at taxpayer expense to their preferred destinations within the U.S.
A recent Capital Research Center report focuses on radical left-wing organizations that promote open borders and amnesty (see Organization Trends, August 2014). As the report documents, these goals are supported by religious and other nonprofit organizations that house, feed, and care for those illegals who have been detained.
With the assistance of the Obama administration, the Left is replicating on a much larger scale what they accomplished in the 1980s, when one-fifth of El Salvador’s population—over 1.1 million people—emigrated illegally to the U.S. In that earlier case, the Left, in league with liberation theology activists in the Catholic Church and other religious groups, established a form of underground railroad that terminated in “sanctuary churches” throughout the U.S. (Liberation Theology is a Marxist interpretation of Christianity. It was first described with that name by Peruvian Catholic priest Gustavo Gutiérrez, who wrote a book promoting it, A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, Salvation, which first appeared in Spanish in 1971 and in English translation in 1973.)Some 262,000 Salvadorans settled in the Washington, D.C. area and now represent 32 percent of the local Hispanic population, a larger proportion than anywhere else in the country. They brought with them significant numbers of the ultraviolent Salvadoran gang, MS-13.
The most recent diaspora has been assisted by some of the same religious groups, but the world is much different today. Although in the 1980s, these groups organized the underground railroad privately in defiance of U.S. policy, today they are federal government contractors.
Unbeknownst to most of us, the federal government’s Unaccompanied Alien Children Program has been around for decades. In 2003, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) shifted responsibility for the program to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Since then, HHS has spent almost $1.9 billion on its UAC program, as the chart below shows. What was once a modest program of a few million dollars a year has grown exponentially since 2011. A total of $676.8 million has been spent so far this year, more than double the 2013 level. (See table at page 4.)
In the Washington, D.C. area, our investigation determined that two organizations in neighboring Maryland are receiving millions of tax dollars to accommodate the illegals. These are the Board of Child Care of the United Methodist Church, at 3300 Gaither Road in Milford Mill, and the Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service (LIRS), headquartered in downtown Baltimore at 700 Light Street. Additionally, Catholic Charities of Baltimore has submitted a grant application to house 50 children at St. Vincent’s Villa in Timonium. Another location has been proposed at the former Second Genesis Drug Treatment Facility in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, although the office of Prince George’s county executive Rushern L. Baker III says the County was never contacted about it.
The Board of Childcare of the United Methodist Church is a gated, fenced-in, multi-building complex at the end of a residential street in a quiet Baltimore County neighborhood. Until recently, it was exclusively a live-in facility for mentally disabled children, many with autism. There are accommodations for 59 youths, a school, and recreational buildings on site. The Board of Childcare also has a 16-bed facility on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, a 50-bed facility in West Virginia, and 6 group homes in Maryland (4) and West Virginia (2), with the capacity to house a total of 28 youths.
The Board of Childcare is new to the UAC program this year according to its president, Laurie Anne Spagnola, who was queried for this report. She would divulge little else in a face-to-face meeting, saying that HHS regulations required that questions be submitted in writing by email for response. A copy of this HHS guidance was requested, andSpagnola said she would provide it. Questions submitted in writing to HHS were:
*How many UACs are housed at the facility?
*How long are they expected to be there?
*There were male UACs at the facility. Are there females too?
It seems that as president of the Board of Childcare, with responsibility for live-in autistic children, Spagnola should be able to answer some questions without HHS permission. She acknowledged in the interview that she could, but they would have to be submitted in writing also. So she was asked in writing:
*The Board of Childcare is a school for mentally disabled children who live at the facility. Autistic children are given to violent outbursts that can be easily provoked. Is it not a conflict of interest to co-locate youths from a different culture, who do not speak the English language, who may have gang affiliations or other criminal history, and at best have no experience with the troubled children living at the facility?
*Is there not the potential for harm to the regular residents?
*Do the parents of residents know that illegal alien youths are being housed with them?
*Did parents of residents have a chance to weigh in before the Board decided to participate in the HHS program?
Later that day, Spagnola insisted that she never agreed to answer any questions on her own, that all questions had to be submitted to HHS. All questions were forwarded, along with the request for a copy of HHS guidance requiring this procedure, in July. To date, HHS has not responded.
According to HHS grant approval records, the Board received its first grant in June 2014, for $2,387,200. The facility currently houses UACs at its Baltimore facility, although Spagnola intimated none were there. Latino youths were observed entering and exiting dorm buildings in groups, usually with a faculty member. Approximately 15 were observed.
The blog Conservative Treehouse has estimated that government grants allocate about $40,000 per child in the UAC program. If correct, that would mean the Board has received funds to manage about 60 UACs. Since all of the Board’s facilities can only handle a total of 154 live-in students, that would represent a significant departure from the organization’s stated mission.
The Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service received grants from the Unaccompanied Alien Children program in 2014 that totaled $18,762,362, but it has been in the UAC business for a long time, netting $71,283,452 since 2003. A princely sum, but it is not all. LIRS provides many other related services for HHS, receiving a total of $232,699,914 since 1995. This is big business, and the charity’s fancy six-story downtown headquarters proves it.
LIRS has no facilities housing illegals in Maryland, however. Its most recent tax return lists 18 Lutheran facilities and 4 others nationwide receiving “Refugee Resettlement” grants. An additional 26 facilities received grants for “Children Services” and “Immigration Justice,” whatever that is. Multiple telephone calls to LIRS public relations officer, Miji Bell, for further clarification were not returned.
But in the world of illegal alien resettlement, even LIRS is small change. The two largest organizations housing and relocating illegal foreign nationals flooding into the country are the Baptist Child and Family Services (BCFS), and a group called Southwest Key Programs. Though it has been largely displaced by these and other groups, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities also participate in the UAC program.
These five organizations — BCFS, Southwest Key Program International Educational Services Inc., USCCB/Catholic Charities, and Lutheran Immigration & Refugees Service — have received a combined total of almost $500 million from the Department of Health and Human Services’ unaccompanied alien children program in 2014.
Baptist Child and Family Services received grants of over $90 million in 2012 and 2013. Its 2014 grants totaled $280,156,954, strictly for “Residential Services for Unaccompanied Alien Children.” One grant alone was over $190 million. BCFS does an astounding amount of work as a government contractor in many different areas, but this is obviously a growth industry for them. Between 2001 and 2012, BCFS received at least $9,658,375 from private donors, of which over $8 million came from the following nine tax-exempt groups.
BCFS has many private funders from the world of philanthropy as well. Among those to provide grants in recent years are:
*C.I.O.S. (Waco, Texas) $2,240,000
*AT&T Foundation (Dallas, Texas) $1,770,000
*Mabee Foundation (Tulsa, Okla.) $1,200,000
*Eula Mae & John Baugh Foundation (Houston, Texas) $847,000
*Goldsbury Foundation (San Antonio, Texas) $788,067
*Kronkosky Foundation (San Antonio, Texas) $550,000
*Cailloux Foundation (Kerrville, Texas) $424,000
*Dian Graves Owen Foundation (Abilene, Texas) $300,000
*Meadows Foundation (Dallas, Texas) $250,000
C.I.O.S stands for “Christ Is Our Savior.” Unlike most other nonprofits funding the illegal immigration agenda, this nonprofit really does appear to be genuinely concerned with truly charitable work. Perhaps it is in the early stages of takeover by the radical Left, or is simply unconcerned about the Left’s subversive open borders agenda.
Southwest Key describes itself as an “Unaccompanied minors program” that serves “youth who enter the United States without parents or adult guardians and have been detained by immigration officials.…” It operates 64 separate programs and has 2,000 employees in six states “impacting over 6,000 children and families on a daily basis.” According to the group’s website its budget expanded to $150 million in 2013 for “new programs and shelters opening across the country to serve over 225,000 children and families.” In 2014 the group received additional federal grants totaling over $122 million.
Southwest is led by Dr. Juan Sanchez, who founded the organization in 1987. He earns a cool $338,000 in pay and benefits. Sanchez’s biography claims that he serves on the board of the National Council of La Raza, which may explain the Obama administration’s largesse, given that domestic policy advisor Cecilia Muñoz is a former senior vice president of La Raza. Sanchez also claims to have received a “Rising to the Challenge Social Justice Award” from LULAC.
A fairly small proportion of Southwest Key’s revenue comes from private foundations. Between 1999 and 2012, foundations contributed at least $3,091,336, according to Foundation Search. Of this amount, over $2.8 million was provided by six donors.
*Annie E. Casey Foundation $1,025,336
*Meadows Foundation $761,000
*J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation $437,500
*Houston Endowment $250,000
*Mabee Foundation $250,000
*National Council of La Raza $103,000
Much of the work these groups do would be less disturbing, if they were actually operating as private charities. But government funding makes a mockery of the entire concept.
Now on the federal payroll, these charities are big-money operations hiding under the fig leaf of their “nonprofit” status. And their paymasters are hiding, too. Providing grants to such organizations allows the government to fund activities that would receive more scrutiny if they were operated by the government.
It also allows politicians to enrich their friends and build political power—in this case, by enlarging what they hope will be a reliable future Democrat voting bloc—using your tax dollars.
James Simpson is an economist, businessman, and freelance writer. His writings have been published in Accuracy in Media, American Thinker, Big Government, Washington Times, WorldNetDaily, FrontPage Magazine, and elsewhere.