It is not too late, you have until 5 p.m. Eastern time today to submit comments to the US State Department

If you are arriving here for the first time and missed it, the US State Department is accepting comments on how many refugees the US will resettle in Fiscal Year 2015 and from where they will come.

Go here for instructions on how to submit your testimony.

We encourage all of you to make your opinions known.  You do not need to be an expert!  None of us are!

You don’t need to get your statement to your elected officials today, you can do that tomorrow or next week, but please get your testimony to the State Department by 5 p.m. Eastern today!

Don’t forget to ask for a complete copy of the hearing/consultation record.  Last year, readers of RRW submitted more comments than the “humanitarian” lobby did.

All of our previous posts on this year’s hearing are here.

Travel loans for refugees and the audacity of those money-grubbing Lutherans

I don’t know whether to roll on the floor laughing my head off or scream when I see brazen fundraising appeals like this one from Linda Hartke (who makes over $200,000 a year as CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service).

Linda Hartke, LIRS CEO, already collecting over $1.5 million a year from refugee travel loans, now wants followers to pony-up with more cashola!

Here is what she said in a recent appeal to followers about travel loans:

Today, refugees from Syria, Burma, the Congo, and other conflict-ridden countries are looking to you … will you please provide welcome and support for people in desperate need with your gift today?

All refugees pay their own travel fees to come to the US. If they are unable to pay, they are extended an interest-free loan and brought to the US on the condition that they agree to repay every dollar spent on their transport.   [So you are probably thinking, great! they repay their taxpayer-funded travel loans—ed]

Fortunately, refugees are not alone — not even in this!

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service compassionately manages the loan repayment of the travel expenses for every refugee we help resettle, so they can thrive. [I am speechless, who the h*** wrote this sentence? Compassionate? Manage the loan?—ed]

As Raghu [the poster child for this fundraising appeal—ed] and his family worked to establish themselves in their new community, they also relied on your support to help them manage the repayment of their travel loans.

So what is my problem, you ask?

The majority of refugees arriving in the US receive a TAXPAYER-FUNDED travel loan—none of them have the thousands and thousands needed for airfare if they are truly impoverished “refugees.”

The contractors, including Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, act as the collection agencies to attempt to wring the cash out of newly arrived refugees and then THEY POCKET 25% OF WHAT THEY COLLECT   (Judy says that using caps means someone is shouting—I am, and in red type too!).   That 25% does not return to the US Treasury! 

So Linda Hartke is trying to raise even more money from supporters claiming they need it to “manage” the loans!  Don’t get me wrong, I am all for private people paying for this, but the over $1.5 million they get of your taxpayer dollars a year is not enough to “manage the loans?”

Don’t believe me, go to this audited financial statement (p.12) for LIRS for 2012 and 2013 and check this out!

LIRS earned $1.7 million in 2013 and $1.6 million in 2012 as “service fees” for collecting those travel loans of your money!  I bet this little “service fee” deal they have with the State Department isn’t even legal!

Page 12 (emphasis is mine):

LIRS acts as an agent for the collection of transportation loans for refugee resettlement through the International Organization for Migration (“IOM”). Collections are remitted to IOM net of servicing fees earned which are 25% of loan collections. Included in servicing fees, LIRS earned fees of $1,763,296 and $1,630,183 as of December 31, 2013 and 2012, respectively.

IOM is another federal contractor!

And, by the way, the figures I have been using for LIRS income need to be updated—they have risen significantly according to this same financial audit.

Are you sitting down?

I gave you figures for their finances in 2011, here, and reported that they received $30 million from US and state taxpayers.  Now get this.  This audited financial report tells us the following information for years 2012 and 2013:  In 2012 they got $40.4 million from government grants and in 2013 it jumped to $46.4 million!

Page 6 (be sure to check out the less than $1 million they received from parishes).

2012 income from government: $40,417,752  and total income was $41,757,818 making it 97% that you supplied them via your tax dollars.

2013 income from government: $46,414,735 and total income was $48,393,131 making it 96% from you!

Endnote:  I am not saying that all Lutherans are money-grubbers but these ones sure are!  And, on the travel loans they are not alone.  I haven’t the time to check the numbers, but last I looked the US Conference of Catholic Bishops was raking in over $3 million in this same travel loan kickback scheme.



Norway accepting fewer asylum seekers, Canada too!

….but, what is the US Justice Department hiding?

This is a long article published on the same day as the European Union parliament elections (surely before the results were in)—elections which clearly demonstrated that Europeans from various countries are beginning to stand up and demand that Europe put its own ethnic people first.   See French police storm migrant camp yesterday.

One has to wade through many many column inches of text about “Ismael” the Somali poster boy for Northern Norway to find a few interesting facts.

Ismael, a Somali in Northern Norway, tells a heartwarming story and the reporter laps it up.

I’ve often laughed over the years about reporters who write ‘refugee-sees-first-snow-stories,’ and this one actually did that!

From the Barants Observer:

After two weeks Ismael was accepted in Norway and soon thereafter he boarded a plane to a place where he would buy his first ever winter coat, see snow for the first time in his life and have to learn a new language and way of living – one he never could have imagined before.

The five Nordic countries received 76,400 requests, in total in 2013, with Sweden accepting 70 percent of these applications. This equates to accepting 9 percent of the total global asylum seekers. Norway received 11,500 claims in the same year – a two percent share of the global total. This is down from the over 17,000 Norway accepted in 2009 and up from the all time low of 9,050 in 2011.

For the last three years Europe has been the primary region sought by asylum seekers – in 2013 Europe received 484,600 asylum claims from across the globe. The US and Canada are second.

Canada approved a paltry 10,400 new claims in 2013. That’s a 50 percent decrease from the 20,500 accepted in 2012. They now match Norway in accepting only two percent of asylum seekers who apply to “industrialized countries” as defined by the UN.

The Breivik factor is mentioned near the end (after you feel all warm and fuzzy about Ismael and his Muslim friends).

Norway, like many other countries, is becoming more closed off to refugees. The country has been accused of ignoring its racist undertones, but events like the brutal shooting rampage of Anders Behring Breivik three years ago have forced Norwegians to contemplate the place of race in their society.

In the middle of all the mushy stuff about Ismael, the reporter did direct us to this handy report from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees—Asylum Trends for 2013.

Here are a couple of interesting facts reported by UNHCR:

*An estimated 612,700 asylum applications were registered in 2013 in the 44 industrialized
countries covered by this report, some 133,000 claims more than the year before (+28%). This is the third consecutive annual increase and the second highest annual level of the past 20 years.

* With 109,600 new asylum applications registered during 2013, Germany was for the first time since 1999 the largest single recipient of new asylum claims among the group of industrialized countries.

* The United States of America was second with an estimated 88,400 asylum applications, followed by France(60,100), Sweden(54,300), and Turkey (44,800).

What is Obama’s Justice Department hiding?

Since I didn’t see any bullet-point telling us how many of the 88,400 US asylum applications were approved (as the Norway and Canada stats do), I went back to the report to see if I could find the number.  However, look at this disclaimer on the report’s first page!

*The United States Department of Justice,
Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)
has temporarily suspended the dissemination
of asylum statistics. As a consequence, the
information available is limited to the number
of asylum applications lodged between January
and August 2013 (17,892). Data from September to
December have been estimated by UNHCR using
a statistical model (seasonal ARIMA). Because no
information is available on the country of origin
of asylum-seekers during this period, its analysis
should be considered as indicative only.

We know some Mexicans are now making bogus asylum claims, but this would indicate that there are a hell-of-a-lot of OTMs (Other than Mexicans) coming across the US border.

And, just a reminder, successful asylum seekers (claims are approved) become full-fledged “refugees” and are eligible for all the same benefits that refugees get in America.  However, keep in mind that they never get the security screening that refugees identified abroad receive.  Remember the Tsarnaev Boston bomber family!

Click here for more of our ‘invasion of Europe‘ posts.  This post is also archived in our ‘where to find information’ category.