World Refugee Day is tomorrow in case you didn’t catch those expensive-looking advertisements from the UNHCR on TV.
It’s a useful news hook for a story about Bridge Resettlement Services in Tennessee and a charity event they are putting on because they are running out of taxpayer money as the ponzi scheme that is refugee resettlement collapses.
What do I mean by that? The agencies, like Bridge (a subcontractor of a big kahoona federal contractor–Church World Service) are paid by the head to resettle refugees and when the flow is slowed as it is right now, and they still have previously resettled refugees to care for (while new money isn’t coming in) the ponzi scheme collapses. Remember how Bernie Madoff paid off his older clients with the new clients money, but never really invested anything, well that is sort of how this works.
So here is the story from Metro Pulse in Knoxville:
Since 1982, the unusual organization, which combines federal grants with mostly church-based volunteer efforts, has resettled hundreds of approved refugees in the Knoxville area. Most who are granted asylum by the U.S. government are victims of war or severe oppression. The majority of the immigrants Bridge has worked with lately are Iraqis, but the organization has also established colonies of Burmese, Rwandans, Ethiopians, Cubans, and others. Knoxville has recently welcomed a significant population of refugees from the tiny, extremely poor African nation of Burundi.
Paid by the head? Yes! You see, they say so right here:
Bridge’s federal grant money is tied to the number of refugees allocated to Knoxville. That number had been growing until recently, but because of a new security protocol instituted this year, the paperwork involved in approving refugees has slowed—and so, temporarily, has the organization’s revenue. Bridge got only 14 refugees to process this past April, just under a third as many as arrived the previous April, and therefore much less federal funding allocated. Though Bridge has fewer incoming refugees this summer, they’re still dealing with the settlers they’ve taken on. They still have administrative costs to keep up with, and need to make up for what they believe to be a temporary gap.
When the refugee program was first debated, passed Congress and signed into law (Ted Kennedy/Joe Biden/Jimmy Carter) in 1980 it was envisioned that these non-profit groups would be in a public-private partnership with governement, but as it is freely admitted below, Bridge gets 95% of its funding from you!
Jennifer Cornwell is director of the organization, based on Middlebrook Pike in West Knoxville. It employs a staff of eight but relies heavily on as many as 100 local volunteers, who teach English or help with critical transportation. Local churches help sponsor some refugee families, Cornwell says, but about 95 percent of their funding comes from the federal refugee-resettlement programs.
So next time you think, aren’t these church folks so nice to do this, remember you foot the bill!
Founded in 1982, Bridge works with both the government and Church World Service and Episcopal Migration Ministries. Local churches involved also include Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian congregations.
Bridge: we especially like Iraqis!
Decisions on who comes to Knoxville are made by federal refugee-resettlement programs, and are based on factors including cost of living and employment opportunities, but especially on the populations already here. Knoxville is already home to a large enough population of Iraqis that new refugees can make connections with them and find their way around; with Bridge’s help, 153 more Iraqis joined them last year.
Filing a lawsuit and blocking the FBI
We know how much Bridge likes Iraqis! One of the earliest posts I wrote at RRW in 2007 was about how Bridge joined a lawsuit with CAIR and the ACLU to stop the FBI from interviewing some Iraqis the feds were concerned about, here. In light of what just happened in neighboring Kentucky (Iraqi refugee terror suspects arrested) wouldn’t you like to know the feds were interviewing Iraqis from time to time?
And, come to think of it, I wonder if they used your money for the lawsuit?
Bridge’s financial position
Have a look at some of Bridge’s finances by checking out their most recent Form 990 (2009) here.
They had $687,085 in gross income for the year.
Of that, $641,801 came from federal taxpayers (government grants).
Other contributions in their public-private partnership amounted to $39,781 (about 6%).
They had salaries of $268,769 and benefits of $69,737, board compensation $51,497 and payroll taxes at $27,942 which comes to a total of $417,945 in salaries and benefits. They spent $10,339 on conferences, conventions and meetings and a whopping $32,022 on travel. And, there is a bunch of other stuff! Looks like we are approaching a half a million $ just keeping their office open—sure doesn’t look like there is much left for the refugees!
Here is an idea, get more volunteers for the office, find more sponsors for refugees, forget conventions/meetings and travel. And, tell me, why does the board need compensation? Isn’t this supposed to be charitable work?