How Refugee Contractors are Misleading You

Here’s my latest piece at Breitbart, this one covering a conference call held by refugee resettlement contractors known as Voluntary Agencies or VOLAGs.

These contractors were once charitable entities, and are mostly affiliated with mainline religious organizations. But since the Refugee Resettlement Act of 1980, they have morphed into paid-by-the-head contractors who lobby incessantly for more refugees, usually without disclosing their howling conflict of interest.

On a call held just after the Paris Attacks responding to governors announcing they would no longer accept inadequately screened Syrian refugees, these VOLAGs twisted the truth and sneered at the governors’ attempts to keep their citizens safe.

The first example:

The call included Kevin Appleby, Director of Migration Policy, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Linda Hartke, President, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS); Lavinia Limon, President & CEO, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants; and Naomi Steinberg, Director, Refugee Council USA.

Early in the call, Ms. Harke said, “All must be informed by facts and truth about the security screening process. There are steps in place to keep our citizens and our nation safe, and to mislead by claiming that they don’t exist or are inadequate is ill-informed.” Likewise, in response to a question about the vetting process, Ms. Steinberg asserted that refugees were the “most thoroughly vetted people to arrive in this country, and that includes refugees from all parts of the world. That is just the fact.”

A reporter pressed the contractors soon thereafter, noting that U.S. House Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) has stated that there are “gaping holes” in the vetting process, and asking if there were anyone in U.S. security agencies who had “backed up” the vetting process – that is, said “anything that can assure Americans that the vetting process is in fact stringent and one that we can rely on.” Mr. Applebee said yes, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) officials had repeatedly testified to Congress about the security of the refugee screening process, and that there was “plenty of recorded testimony on this issue on the Hill.”

Yes, plenty of testimony – much of it saying the opposite. Less than a month before, FBI director James Comey testified for the second time this year before Congress that the Administration was flatly unable to screen Syrian refugees. “We can only query against that which we have collected,” Comey told the committee under questioning, “So if someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interest reflected in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing show up because we have no record of them.”

Earlier in October Jeh Johnson, Homeland Security Secretary, also allowed that though “we’ve gotten better at that over the last couple years,” that vetting refugees “is a time-consuming process, and one of the challenges we will have is that we’re not going to know a whole lot about the individual refugees that come forward from the UN High Commission on Refugees for Resettlement and Vetting.”

Likewise, in February, Assistant Director for the FBI, Mr. Michael Steinback, told Congress that when it comes to Syrian refugees, “We don’t have it under control.” “Absolutely, we’re doing the best we can,” he testified in February before the U.S. House. “If I were to say that we had it under control, then I would say I know of every single individual traveling. I don’t. And I don’t know every person there and I don’t know everyone coming back. So it’s not even close to being under control.”

That sounds as though the steps in place to keep our citizens and our nation safe: either don’t exist or are are inadequate. So according to at least one refugee resettlement contractor, our FBI Director and Assistant Director and Secretary of Homeland Security are “ill-informed.”

The truth is that VOLAGs have a financial interest in misleading reporters to believe that refugees are entirely safe and well-vetted. The FBI and Administration officials actually have an interest that points in the same direction: President Obama would prefer that they remain mum on the problems in refugee vetting, which he dismisses.

So I’d recommend paying a lot closer attention to the FBI Director than a VOLAG Director on refugee vetting problems.