State Department to change travel fee repayment plans

Your tax dollars!

Before I post this article about how the State Department is planning to revamp its travel fee repayment plan, ponder this!  Refugees are required to almost immediately begin paying back the funds they “borrowed” for their family’s airfare to the US.  They arrive here with, in many cases, no English language skills, they can’t find work, and they live on welfare and in subsidized housing, but to teach them “financial responsibility” we begin sending them dunning letters almost immediately (and in many cases they can’t read them!) for the airfare loan.

And, that is not even the bad part.  The shocking part is that instead of being required to pay the taxpayer back (even if they could) the federal contractors like Catholic Charities get a cut (25 % if I recall correctly) to wring this money out of people on welfare.

As it was explained to me by a State Department official in 2007—we (the State Dept) would have to hire a collection agency to get the money back, so we might as well let the federal contractor get the money out of them.

Before you read on, one such contractor is the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Visit the US Conference of Catholic Bishops 2010 Annual Report (p. 12) and note that in their revenue stream for that year, they have listed $3,166,625 from COLLECTION FEES ON TRAVEL LOANS!    The USCCB, one of the largest resettlement agencies, is contracted to resettle refugees by the head and then on top of that they get this little extra bonus from your tax dollars.

Now, here is the article from the Philadelphia Inquirer (Hat tip: Joanne):

Rescuing refugees fleeing homelands rent by war, natural disaster, and repression is a lofty American tradition – one that since 1980 has given more than 3 million of the world’s most vulnerable immigrants passage to a new life.

Delivered from teeming camps, they land in the United States with few possessions, meager job skills, and problems with English. They also arrive with the little-known obligation to repay Washington for their airfare.

In the land of the free, they are instant debtors.


They must begin reimbursing the federal government after five months, and pay in full within 42 months. They are warned that credit bureaus are kept apprised of their punctuality, or lack of it.

“Our goal is not to care for them in . . . perpetual victimhood,” said David Robinson, acting assistant secretary of state for population, refugees, and migration, which oversees the program. Loans tell them “it’s not a one-way street.”

Refugee advocates, who give orientations on financial literacy even before the displaced leave the camps, agree the program teaches a critical lesson in responsible borrowing. But criticism has mounted that it also imposes too heavy a burden on families already weighed down by multiple disadvantages.

So the State Department is planning the first significant changes to the Travel Loan Program in its 32-year history. Beginning in October, those owing the most money will see their monthly payments capped according to a formula still under review.

The change will make the program “more equitable,” Robinson said. “In some cases, individually, the burden may [have been] too high.”


The federal government paid nearly $43 million in airfares last year, and so far has collected $1.7 million.  [It’s not clear which year they are referring to here, but the USCCB collected over $3 million in 2010, above—ed]

Data released to The Inquirer last week by the International Organization for Migration, the intergovernmental group that dispenses the travel money, show that almost half the loans since 2002 – 45 percent – were not repaid during the prescribed 42 months. About 25 percent, or one in four families, is delinquent by 180 days or more.

This whole program is being run by people living in la-la land.  How about this novel idea—if we can’t afford to do this (resettle impoverished people from the third world), we shouldn’t do it.

Did you know that 1993 World Trade Center bomber got into the US as an asylum seeker?

Why am I reporting this old news now?  First, because it was new news to me as I read Richard Miniter’s 2011 spellbinder “Mastermind”about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. When I’m away with no computer, it’s sometimes a good thing—I can read whole books.  I’m going to tell you more about KSM and how he went to college in the Muslim triangle of North Carolina in another post, but in the meantime I wanted to mention Ramzi Yousef (now locked away for life in a super-max in Colorado).  Ramzi Yousef  is KSM’s nephew.

When this 1993 New York Times article was written no one had even begun to connect all the dots, but imagine if Martha  Morales had been listened to by her superiors at the INS.

Since this was all new to me, I thought it might be to you as well—-it happened long before most of us were paying attention to Islamic terrorism and long before I became interested in refugees and asylees.

And, the other reason I’m telling you about this is because readers should know that the Refugee Resettlement Program is a twin to our Asylum Program.  The only difference is that with the refugee program prospective “refugees” are screened abroad and we transport them here, and “asylum seekers” arrive on our borders by any means (in this case by plane) and then ask for asylum claiming they were persecuted somewhere.   More often then not they are granted a temporary stay, released, and asked to return for an asylum hearing.  I am not kidding—we are still releasing them into society just as we did Ramzi Yousef on September 1, 1992.

As our refugee entrant numbers are declining in recent years, the asylum numbers are rising as open borders activists focus their attention on that program.

Here is the old New York Times story written before (in November 1993) it had been firmly established that Ramzi Yousef was the ringleader of the 1993 bombing, and long before anyone figured out who the “brain” behind the operation was—KSM.

An immigration inspector said she recommended that a man later suspected of being a ringleader in the World Trade Center explosion be prohibited from entering the United States when he applied for political asylum at Kennedy International Airport in September 1992, but she was overruled.

The witness, Martha Morales, testifying in the trial of four men accused of setting a bomb in the World Trade Center on Feb. 26, was speaking of Ramzi Ahmed Yousef. Investigators say they believe he was to have been deeply involved in the bombing, but he left the country hours after the trade center explosion. His whereabouts are unknown.

Mr. Yousef arrived in this country from Pakistan on Sept. 1, 1992, carrying an Iraqi passport but no visa. Previous testimony has indicated that he was questioned by immigration officers at the airport and then admitted to the United States when he applied for political asylum. The indictment in the case identifies him as one of the men who ordered the chemicals that were used in the bomb and helped to build it. Then, on the day of the explosion, Mr. Yousef flew from Kennedy Airport to Karachi, Pakistan, under the name Abdul Basit.

Note all the problems Ms. Morales reported about Yousef, but was subsequently overruled by her superiors who let the killer in.

Some of Mr. Yousef’s importance in the case is because of his alleged connections to one of the defendants on trial, Ahmad M. Ajaj. Mr. Ajaj arrived on the same Sept. 1 flight as Mr. Yousef, bearing an altered Swedish passport under a false name and carrying manuals on bomb-making that, according to investigators, had Mr. Yousef’s fingerprints on them.


Ms. Morales told the jury yesterday that she was the immigration inspector who questioned Mr. Yousef at Kennedy after he arrived from Pakistan on Sept. 1. Mr. Ajaj was detained when it was discovered that the Swedish passport he was using had been altered and his photograph substituted for the original.

Ms. Morales read out the sworn statement that she took from Mr. Yousef. In it, Mr. Yousef said he was an Iraqi citizen living in Pakistan who had been beaten by Iraqi soldiers during the 1991 invasion of Kuwait and had suffered religious and political persecution in Pakistan.

Asked how he had boarded a Pakistan International Airlines flight to New York without a visa to the United States, Mr. Yousef said he had paid $2,700 to a Pakistani official who had provided him with a boarding pass. He said he had traveled alone, and he had given an address in Houston as his residence in the United States.

Ms. Morales said Mr. Yousef had worn a colorful Middle Eastern costume made out of silk, with “puffed sleeves” and “harem pants.”

Ms. Morales said that a search found that Mr. Yousef had papers indicating that he was using two names besides the one on his passport. The boarding pass, she said, bore the name Azan Mohammed. Mr. Yousef was also found to have an identification card from something called the Islamic Information Center in Arizona, which had his picture on it but the name Khurram Khan.

The answers Mr. Yousef gave in his sworn statement provided at least two circumstantial connections with Mr. Ajaj, though neither of them were specifically called to the jury’s attention. One was the reference to Houston, where Mr. Ajaj lived before leaving the country for Pakistan in April last year. The other was the alias Khurram Khan, the same name that appeared on Mr. Ajaj’s doctored Swedish passport.

Noting that Mr. Yousef had “multiple ID’s,” Ms. Morales said that she recommended that he be detained by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. She referred her recommendation to other officials who decided to release Mr. Yousef on his own recognizance and for him to return for a hearing on his request for political asylum later.

Of course he never returned for that hearing….