Boy those Lutherans sure are busy distributing diversity in the Dakotas

First we heard (last week) that more refugees are going to South Dakota, and now this week it’s North Dakota thanks to the Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services (LIRS)* headquartered in a very nice building in Maryland (It might even be fancier than the Catholic Charities building in Fort Worth I told you about yesterday, here.  BTW, did anyone get over to Billy Bob’s for some fun at the Poverty Summit?)   I guess LIRS figures the pickens are better in the Dakotas because Maryland is in immigrant overload right now with El Salvadoran Sandinistas and they can be pretty rough when it comes to their territory.

Here is the latest from Grand Forks where a community-wide meeting was held to help calm down the local folks who want to know how their kids are going to be educated in over-crowded schools.  LIRS has likely worn out its welcome in the two larger cities in the state—Fargo and Bismark—so now they have moved into fresher territory.

About 100 people attended a two-hour panel discussion in the Empire Arts Centre this evening with 13 people involved in refugee and immigration issues in the community.

It’s the second event aimed at addressing concerns about and the needs of the growing numbers of immigrants in Grand Forks, said Hal Gershman, president of the city council.

“We have to show tolerance for each other, no matter what our views are,” Gershman said.

Most of the questions from the audience were from mothers concerned about what they said are crowded conditions in Century Elementary School, on the city’s southwest sector. That’s the designated “magnet” elementary school for English Language Learner (ELL) students, most of whom are immigrants.

Assistant Superintendent Jody Powell said the district is confident that staffing levels are adequate but that a demographic study of the district is being done that could re-draw school lines.

Without a doubt, here is one of the best questions I’ve ever heard some cheeky citizen ask!

A man asked the panel pointedly “what is the ideal level of ethnic diversity,” and whether the refugee resettlement program was aimed at any certain number of immigrants in Grand Forks.

Sinisa Milovanovic, state refugee coordinator for Lutheran Social Services which is the only official refugee resettlement agency in North Dakota, said it was the needs in other countries that drove refugees here.

“Our agency is not in the business of increasing diversity.”

He! He! He!  Of course he wouldn’t dare tell them they will keep bringing refugees until the citizens of Grand Forks are ready to blow up and tell them ENOUGH!

* I forget that some readers may be new and don’t know that there are ten or so major federal refugee contractors (called volags) and LIRS is one of those.  Your money goes to LIRS who then subcontracts these Lutheran agencies in the Dakotas.  The whole tangled business of hundreds of subcontractors to the big contractors  makes it hard to track taxpayer money or to guarantee accountability.  And, since refugee agencies are paid by the head there is quite a bit of competition between contractors for refugee heads.  However, as far as the Dakotas are concerned, it looks like LIRS has a monopoly.

Addendum:  Ahhhhhh! It is worse than I thought!  After I posted this I thought I should check LIRS most recent available Form 990, here.    LIRS gross receipts for that year were $31,017,941 and $29,907,281 came from YOU!  That is 96% of their funds came from the taxpayers!  Their past president received over $200,000, for what?  And, adding insult to injury, you likely paid for that fancy building in an “eclectic” Inner Harbor neighborhood.

Muhammad pleads guilty in Wichita food stamp fraud case

There is really not much new in this story that I haven’t reported from the dozens of other similar convenience store food stamp fraud cases I’ve posted, but…

….Note that a seller of stamps was also charged and plead guilty.  I’ve only seen that happen in a couple of cases over the last four years.

From KWCH-12 Eyewitness News:

The U.S. District Attorney’s office announced that a Wichita couple that owned a grocery store and a food stamp recipient have pleaded guilty to food stamp fraud.

Entering guilty pleas were:

Muhammad Qadeer Akram, 46, Wichita, Kan., the former owner of Alnoor Grocery Store, 5220 E. 21st in Wichita, one count of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud, one count of food stamp fraud and one count of wire fraud.

Shama L. Qadeer, 38, Wichita, Kan., Muhammad Qadeer Akram’s wife, who was a co-owner of the grocery store, one count of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud, one count of food stamp fraud and one count of wire fraud.

Tequita L. Higgins, 28, Wichita, Kan., one count of food stamp fraud. [She is a seller of her food stamp privilege–ed].

In their pleas, Muhammad Qadeer Akram and Shama Qadeer admitted to entering into a conspiracy with others to defraud the United States Department of Agriculture by giving cash to recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, more commonly known as food stamps, in exchange for SNAP benefits.

The District Attorney’s office said the scheme was to give SNAP recipients cash for their benefits, about 50-to-60 cents on the dollar, and keep the rest of the benefits for themselves. They would run SNAP transactions to make it appear SNAP benefits were being used to purchase approved food items at their store.

In one instance, on Nov. 5, 2010, they gave a SNAP recipient about $150 in cash in return for SNAP benefits totaling $308.79. In another instance, $503.33 was credited to their account for a SNAP transaction. They gave the SNAP recipient $250 and falsified reports to make it appear the recipient had purchased approved food items. The indictment alleges $450,000 in similar transactions.

In her plea, Higgins admitted using her Vision card at Alnoor Groceries. She received about $150 in cash in return for a $308.79 SNAP transaction.

By the way, I don’t see any mention of ICE being involved so I suppose these fraudsters are here legally.