Senior VP says shutdown will sully our reputation around the world!
Not surprisingly the shutdown of the US government, that will soon be two weeks old, is causing havoc for contractors including those nine big federal refugee resettlement contractors who frankly could not survive without your tax dollars.
Here is a new boo-hoo story, this time from Voice of America. Previously we heard a similar tale of woe (here) also from St. Louis.
As is the case with most formulaic refugee stories, it begins with a some sad refugees, but part way through we have a spokeswoman from the International Institute of St. Louis (a subcontractor of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants), giving us a frank recitation of their problem.
From VOA (emphasis is mine):
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI — The U.S. government shutdown has temporarily frozen resettlement of refugees in some parts of the United States. Dozens from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East who hoped to arrive in the Midwest state of Missouri in October are in limbo abroad. Family members anxiously awaiting their arrival fear the longer the shutdown goes on, the less likely they will reach their destination.
Read about the unhappy refugees, then here is Suzanne LeLaurin:
“This is not healthy for our country,” said Suzanne LeLaurin, senior vice president at the International Institute, the non-profit group providing the travel funds for Subba’s parents and 34 more refugees – from Iraq, Somalia, Cuba, Burma, and Eritrea. Now, all are in limbo. “It’s not healthy for our reputation around the world, and I think that all of us would wish that Republicans and Democrats alike would sit down and come to an agreement and get the government back in business.”
“We get most of our funding from the federal government, maybe 60 to 70 percent, mostly because of our refugee resettlement services,” said LeLaurin.
She said more is at stake than just resettlement. The support system that helps refugees once they arrive in the U.S. also depends on federal funds. Everything from rent, utilities, and food to staffing the International Institute is at risk as the shutdown continues.
I can’t resist checking these “non-profit” groups’ Form 990s which they file with the IRS. The most recent one available for the International Institute of St. Louis is here. When you go to page nine, note that they took in $4.3 million that year (rounded number) and a whopping $3.7 million came from “government grants.” In fact that is 86% from taxpayers! It is possible that all of their government grants are not federal; perhaps there is some state and local dollars in the mix which would maybe make LeLaurin’s estimate of 60-70% accurate.
And when she says staffing will be affected if the slowdown continues, you bet it will with over $2 million of their budget going to salaries and benefits!
At what point is an organization no longer a private non-profit and is instead a government agency subject to scrutiny by elected officials and citizens? That is what I would like to know!
For new readers, you might want to check our St. Louis archive and be ready to be shocked about all the problems there with refugee issues.