Myth: Refugees get free cars explained; not free, but taxpayer subsidized

Update November 5:  A reader tells us there is a way for refugees to get cars free (besides the IDA method below).  If others of you have more information on how these ‘deals’ work, please let us know:

The most common route to a “free car” is through the Match Grant program – and yes this does provide a free used car to the refugee and cash to the contractor. The way it works is john Q public (or a dealer) donates his car to the Match Grant program. The contractor (Volag) gives the car to the refugee and, at the same time, presents a bill to the ORR Match Grant program . ORR Match Grant pays cash to the contractor (Volag) for 90% of the claimed value of the donated car. I am not exactly sure of the 90% – it is always changing and always getting better and better for the contractor (Volag).By now it could 100% of the claimed value. At any rate, the U.S. treasury takes 2 hits: one for the guy who writes off the donation on this tax returns and one for the pay out to the contractor (Volag).

One more mention of North Dakota and then I have to do a  whole bunch of other things (I expect posting may be sporadic in the coming days).

Close up shot of Uncle Sam holding pink piggy bank
Yes, the federal government runs a piggy bank for refugees and cars are one of the permitted goals for the special savings account. The resettlement contractors manage the money.

When we told you about the myth-buster meeting in Fargo earlier this morning, here, one line in the news account jumped out at me (one of several), but I want to tell you a bit about this one:

She added that refugees are not given free cars. “They get, at most, a four-month bus pass,” she said.

For years I’ve been seeing the “free cars” line.  There really is an explanation to it, but because whoever asked about it at the meeting probably didn’t ask the right question that allowed Ms. Thomasson to dismiss it as she did.

In fact, the Office of Refugee Resettlement has a special grant program called ‘Individual Development Accounts (IDAs).

We told you about it here recently (sorry for daily readers that we have to go over these things, but on some days we have a couple thousand new readers who have never been here before, so we have to repeat information).
For every dollar the refugee saves for one of 4 possible savings goals, you, the federal taxpayer match them a dollar.  This whole program is managed through resettlement contractors like Lutheran Social Services.
Here is the gist of the program:

Individual Development Accounts (IDA) are matched savings accounts designed to help refugees save for a specific purchase. Under the IDA program, the matching funds, together with the refugee’s own savings from their employment, are available for purchasing one (or more) of four savings goals:

Home purchase
Small business development
Post secondary education or training
Automobile (for employment purposes)
Public or private non-profit organizations administer IDA programming.


IDA grantees provide matched savings accounts to refugees whose annual income is less than 200 percent of the poverty level and whose assets, exclusive of a personal residence and one vehicle, are less than $10,000. Grantees provide matches of up to $1 for every $1 deposited by a refugee in a savings account. The total match amount provided may not exceed $2,000 for individuals or $4,000 for households. Upon enrolling in an IDA program, a refugee signs a savings plan agreement which specifies the savings goal, the match rate, and the amount the refugee will save each month.

I must mention that there was a time when Catholic Charities was taking donations of used cars and there were some stories about cars going to refugees that way, but I haven’t heard of it in recent years.
I am guessing that the “free cars” claim is based on the IDAs.
If the question had been asked in this way: “Do refugees get car purchases subsidized through federal grants?” I would hope Ms. Thomasson would explain the program.
Incidentally, you can imagine that when word gets out in communities that refugees are getting ‘goodies’ like this and the average low-income American isn’t getting these special deals, some tension likely builds in the community.

More on the North Dakota poll: Lutheran's refugee program opposed by 57%

In my previous post I mentioned that in Fargo, ND yesterday, the major refugee resettlement contractor spoke to a gathering hosted by the Chamber of Commerce to dispel the “myths” about refugee resettlement in the US.

Gotta keep the refugees flowing into North Dakota because LSS has a fancy new building to pay for. LSS is paid by the head to resettle refugees AND they receive other federal grants for all sorts of additional “programs” for their special charges. From a recent FORM990 we learned they received over $10 million in government grants. Here is what we said in August:

After posting it, I came across this news account from Valley News Live which commissioned the poll.  And, I want to commend them for taking this initiative!

Perhaps all of you in ‘Pockets of Resistance’ should encourage a respected news outlet to commission a poll like this.

The story begins:

Refugees coming to the United States is quickly becoming a defining issue for the field of 2016 presidential hopefuls. It’s an issue too that directly affects us here in the Fargo-Moorhead area. This is a major resettlement region, and Fargo is home to the largest group of refugees in North Dakota.

This is the first in a series taking a deep dive into this issue, exploring your opinions, the impacts to our schools, our neighborhoods and our infrastructure, how your tax money is being spent and how this issue extends well beyond supporting or opposing refugee resettlement.

We, at Valley News Live, wanted to really understand your viewpoints when it came to this issue so we had a solid starting point from which to work. We commissioned a study by Mason Dixon Polling and Research out of Jacksonville, Florida, paid for it and now have those opinions.

I’m not going to snip the poll results because I want you to go visit Valley News Live yourself by clicking here.  Note that Independents made up the most number of respondents indicating very clearly that this issue is not a Republican v. Democrat issue.

Fargo, ND poll: Most citizens do not want more refugee resettlement

But, almost more interesting to me (in this news account) was the fact that the local CHAMBER OF COMMERCE hosted the event to try to convince the citizens there that they are wrong.

Readers, if you don’t know it already—The Chamber of Commerce throughout America is FOR more migration to America and lobbies FOR amnesty and obviously is now openly out in front promoting more refugee resettlement.  Can you say cheap immigrant labor!  And, look at the Republican members of Congress and Senators who are wimps on immigration and you will likely find the Chamber behind them (and funding them!).
From the Grand Forks Herald (emphasis is mine):

FARGO — The head of the nonprofit agency tasked with resettling refugee groups in North Dakota gave a presentation Tuesday hoping to dispel misconceptions about refugees.

Jessica Thomason
Jessica Thomason, CEO of Lutheran Social Services in ND. Photo:

“Today, we are going to be clearing the air,” Jessica Thomasson, CEO of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, told a crowd of about 200 people at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Fargo.

Among the notions that Thomasson sought to debunk was the idea that refugees are responsible for increases in crime. “We know there is no correlation,” she said, citing a study that showed: “Immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born population.”***

Thomasson, whose talk was hosted by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce, said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security screens refugees before they enter the country. “The United States has as one of its policies that we don’t resettle people who have been aggressors in the conflicts,” she said.

Thomasson’s talk came at a time when refugee resettlement is a hotly contested issue in North Dakota, which leads the nation in refugee resettlement per capita.

The day before Thomasson spoke, Valley News Live aired the results of a poll the TV station commissioned. Of the 625 adults surveyed in Cass and Clay Counties, 57 percent opposed the continued resettlement of refugees in the area, 28 percent supported it and 15 percent were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of no more than 4 percentage points.

Continue reading here.
***Update***  Here are the survey results.  And here is my post on the poll. And, one more update here—“myth” about free cars explained.
Go here for all of our previous posts on North Dakota.  This post is filed in our ‘Pockets of Resistance’ category, here.
By the way when you check our archives on North Dakota you will see several horrible crimes committed by refugees there—the one that jumped out at me was the Somali mass murder of native Americans, here.  Then there was the “hatchet man”….

In Atlantic City, NJ, owner of shuttered casino says he would house Syrian refugees

There is money in ‘them thar’ refugees!  Throughout Europe there are stories of developers and others in the real estate business who see dollar signs (well Euros, where they live) as the migrants pour in, but this is the first time we are seeing a developer here in America look to overtly cash in on federally-funded ‘humanitarianism.’
See our post last year from Germany—luxury hotel converted to housing for refugees.

FILE - This Oct. 17, 2012 file photo shows the Revel, Atlantic City, N.J.'s newest casino. Revel, the casino many people had hoped would turn around Atlantic City's sagging fortunes, on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 said that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March, less than a year after it opened. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry, File)
FILE – This Oct. 17, 2012 file photo shows the Revel, Atlantic City, N.J.’s newest casino. Revel, the casino many people had hoped would turn around Atlantic City’s sagging fortunes, on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 said that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March, less than a year after it opened. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry, File)

Although readers, you will find many local cases of rental property owners working hand-in-glove with local resettlement agencies, or developers looking for HUD money to diversify housing in your town, it is all kept pretty under the table.
The owner of the Revel, a shuttered casino, is apparently cash-strapped and right out in the open in his appeal.
From NBC10:

So far, the owner of Atlantic City’s former Revel casino has proposed using it as an indoor water park, a medical tourism resort, an equestrian facility and a so-called “genius academy” where the world’s top minds would tackle society’s problems.

Now add this to Glenn Straub’s thoughts for the property: housing Syrian refugees.

Straub told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he’s willing to let people displaced by the civil war in Syria stay at the 47-story Revel resort as he fights in court over its future. Straub has been trying to reopen Revel since buying it in April for $82 million but has been beset by litigation from utility companies and former tenants that has so far kept it shuttered.

“We treat our dogs better than we treat the Syrians right now,” he said. “If the government wanted to house Syrian refugees, I’d give them use of the building and let them put those people there.”


The U.S. State Department said Tuesday that it had not been contacted by Straub but would be willing to put him in contact with a local refugee resettlement agency*** should he so desire.

Straub said his only request would be reimbursement for the cost of operating the building while refugees were staying there.

***The closest resettlement agency is in Camden, NJ (go here to see the entire list of resettlement contractors, find one near where you live).
By the way, I don’t see Atlantic City on the list of cities whose mayors are hankering for more immigrants to boost their sagging economies.  And, there are two NJ cities looking for Syrian refugees, but I don’t see A.C. on the list yet.