Here is the press statement today from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS), one of ten volags that will benefit from the Obama bailout, applauding the State Department for opening the spigot on federal money to help them beef up their offices. Of course this is all couched in such warm and fuzzy words like compassion and justice and vulnerable people and welcoming them to America, but keep in mind this agency and others have been leaving refugees high and dry throughout the US (unemployed in lousy apartments fearing eviction) while blaming it on the government (you!) for not giving them enough money.
Frankly, the public-private partnership business is a joke, most of these so-called non-profits and church groups are largely funded by the taxpayer as we have chronicled many times on these pages.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services apparently does not file a federal Form 990 because none is available at Guidestar. However, visit their 2008 annual report here and note that almost all of the funding they receive is from the government (the taxpayer). Only a small amount comes from compassionate Lutherans.
The program needs a major overhaul, and more money shouldn’t have been offered until the reforms are made.
It is still not clear to me where the State Department is getting an extra $50-75 million for this year.
This is LIRS response today:
Baltimore, MD (PRWEB) January 26, 2010 — Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) applauds a recent U.S. State Department decision to increase the reception and placement grant for newly resettled refugees from $900 to $1,800 per capita. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Eric Schwartz informed LIRS Vice President for Protection and Programs Susan Krehbiel of the change in a January 22 letter. The change is retroactive to January 1, 2010.
When refugees who cannot return to their home countries due to persecution or violence are admitted to the United States, they are resettled by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and other national organizations working through local programs to provide 30 to 90 days of reception services for newly arrived refugees. These services include meeting immediate needs such as housing, furnishings, clothing and food as well as assisting with access to social security cards, school enrollment, health care, employment services and English language instruction. In 2009 the United States admitted just under 80,000 refugees, of whom nearly 11,000 were welcomed by LIRS and its network of 24 affiliates serving in 46 communities across the country.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service drew attention to the need for increased funding for basic initial services in a 2009 report, The Real Cost of Welcome: A Financial Analysis of Local Refugee Reception.* The report detailed the challenges faced by organizations that carry out the work of welcoming newly arrived refugees. “LIRS believes that private participation is an essential aspect of refugee resettlement,” the report stated, but noted “troubling strains on this public-private partnership due to the growing imbalance between federal resources and expectations and the increasing reliance upon our local partners to raise support.” [Readers please note they are supposed to be raising private money! But, when you examine that annual report I’ve linked above almost all their money is from government, what gives?]
The per capita grant directly benefits refugees and offsets local program costs of overseeing services to newcomers. Of the $1,800 per capita, $1,100 is designated for direct support of refugees. Of this, at least $900 must be spent on the needs of each refugee, but local agencies will have the flexibility to allocate up to $200 to augment funding more vulnerable refugees. The remaining $700 is designated for program management, and should allow local programs to increase staffing or otherwise improve the quality of their services. [Refugees might be unemployed but no unemployment wanted in the refugee resettling industry itself!]
LIRS President-Elect Linda Hartke stated, “This is wonderful news. The increased funding for reception and placement will significantly enhance Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service’s ability to help refugees get started on the road to successful integration. We are thankful that the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration shares our desire to foster a spirit of welcome for newcomers in American communities.”
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is a champion for uprooted people and is one of the nation’s leading agencies serving refugees and immigrants. LIRS helps people seeking safety from persecution in their home countries and reunites families torn apart by conflict. LIRS resettles refugees and protects vulnerable children who arrive alone in the United States. LIRS advocates for compassion and justice for all migrants. [Including Somalis!]
* The numbers are fishy, see Comment worth noting, here, from reader Mark.