US State Department continues its pattern of secrecy regarding refugee resettlement, by Ann Corcoran 5/25/17
The leading non-profit watchdog on government transparency, Judicial Watch, has been digging in to records relating to the resettlement of tens of thousands of refugees and other migrants and the money we spend on them.
Yesterday, JW reported that while the Dept of Health and Human Services was forthcoming about the cost of care for the tens of thousands of ‘Unaccompanied Alien Children’ (they are NOT refugees) spread throughout America, the State Department continues to withhold information about what you pay for the resettlement of refugees from around the world.
Incidentally I like the use of the words “foreign nationals” in this article to describe the disparate people we are paying to care for.
Again, the ‘children’ from Central America are not “refugees” and that distinction must continue to be made because the Open Borders Left is working every day to make you think that the mostly male teens are refugees escaping persecution.
Judicial Watch (two days ago): The U.S. government spends billions of dollars to “resettle” foreign nationals and transparency on how the money is spent depends on the agency involved. Judicial Watch has been investigating it for years, specifically the huge amount of taxpayer dollars that go to “voluntary agencies”, known as VOLAGs, to provide a wide range of services for the new arrivals. Throughout the ongoing probe Judicial Watch has found a striking difference on how government lawyers use an exemption, officially known as (b)(4), to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to withhold records. All the cases involve public funds being used to resettle foreigners on U.S. soil and Americans should be entitled to the records.
The (b)(4) exemption permits agencies to withhold trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person which is privileged or confidential. Depending on the government agency and the mood of the taxpayer-funded lawyers handling public records requests, that information is exempt from disclosure. In these cases, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) disclosed a VOLAG contract to resettle tens of thousands of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) that entered the U.S. through Mexico under the Obama administration while the State Department withheld large portions of a one-year, $22.8 million deal to resettle refugees from Muslim countries. Most of the UACs came from El Salvador,
Honduras and Guatemala and the Obama administration blamed the sudden surge on violence in the three Central American nations. The agency responsible for resettling the minors and issuing contracts for the costly services is HHS.
See the JW post for the details of where your money went for the ‘children.’
JW continues….This has become a heated issue for the government which may explain why other agencies aren’t as forthcoming in providing specific figures, thus abusing the (b)(4) exemption. The State Department, for instance, redacted huge portions of records involving contracts with VOLAGs to resettle refugees from mostly Muslim countries. The files illustrate the disparate redaction treatment given by different government agencies to the same types of records. The State Department paid a VOLAG called United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) a ghastly $22,838,173 in one year to resettle refugees that came mostly from Muslim countries. Unlike HHS, the agency redacted information related to what the USCCB charged the government for things like furniture, personnel, equipment and other costs associated with contracts to resettle refugees. Why did one government agency hand over the same types of records that another agency claims are trade secrets? Judicial Watch is challenging the State Department’s (b)(4) exemption and will provide updates as they become available.
Continue reading here.
I don’t know if JW’s FOIA request was an older one to the Obama State Department. If it was, it would be interesting to see how the Trump State Department handles such requests. If this was from a new FOIA (post Trump inauguration), then we know that the Trump DOS is going to be as secretive as Obama’s was.
As we said yesterday, the Trump Administration in FY18 is going to continue to spend billions on these foreign nationals.
Just so you know, Baptist Children and Family Services, that is getting the millions for the UACs is not one of the nine federal resettlement contractors calling themselves VOLAGs. It doesn’t resettle real refugees through the US Refugee Admissions Program.
It is, of course, a federal contractor just as the nine which monopolize resettlement in America are. Here is an example of a research project someone should undertake—-figure out how much federal money goes to BCFS every year.
The nine VOLAGs comprise a closed little click and I suspect they are not happy that BCFS has wormed its way in to their pots of (your) money.
Two of the nine (possibly more now) have been getting payola from HHS to care for ‘Unaccompanied Alien Children’ for years (in addition to resettling refugees) and the two are the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
For new readers, in government-speak the word VOLAG stands for Voluntary Agencies which I have said is such a joke because they are mostly paid out of the US Treasury to do their ‘charitable good works.’ Go here at HHS where they list the nine so-called VOLAGs. See them here below:
· Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) (secular)
· International Rescue Committee (IRC) (secular)
· US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) (secular)
Just so you know, when I started writing RRW in 2007, there was a tenth VOLAG. It was the state of Iowa. To break in to this closed group, a wannabe government contractor must show they have experience resettling refugees. Maybe BCFS is hoping to get in on the refugee resettlement action by first ‘resettling’ the children from Central America. I’ve also hypothesized that the Mormon Church in Utah might at some point try to break in to this charmed circle.