James Simpson | Capital Research Center
Summary: Surveys of Americans show mixed views on immigration issues, and yet for the Left all immigration is good, no matter what laws or legislatures say. Major donors on the Left, which normally champion every kind of government regulation, support immigration without limits, and a number of large nonprofits reap not only private funding but millions of tax dollars in the resettlement business. Most Americans have never even heard of the programs that disburse these monies in their name. This report sketches the landscape and tracks the money flows.
Left-wing campaign to overwhelm America
Left-wing grant-makers have embarked on a campaign aimed at overwhelming America with unprecedented levels of immigration. These foundations underwrite a universe of liberal organizations that are devoted to bringing in ever more people from all over the world, and the organizations’ motives include money. These groups, known as “Volunteer Agencies” (VOLAGs), don’t just receive private dollars from liberal foundations; they also are richly rewarded with your tax dollars when they collaborate with federal government agencies.
Every year, the U.S. government allows approximately 1 million immigrants to establish legal permanent residence in the U.S. This includes people from countries that represent a national security threat to the U.S. About 140,000 emigrate lawfully from majority-Muslim countries and an even greater number do so from the communist countries that still remain –including Cuba and China– more than two decades after the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Far more immigrants come to America illegally. Last year, almost 140,000 youths and families were welcomed into the U.S. after illegally entering the country through the Southwest border.
But these numbers aren’t high enough to please the foundations that will be profiled in this study.
The Refugee Program
There is another category of newcomer that most Americans have overlooked while our country is distracted by the wave of illegal immigration. This group is having a profound impact on the complexion of our society and is rapidly rising to the level of national security threat.
The group to which I refer are refugees from countries with bloody conflicts. Approximately 3.9 million Syrians have fled civil war and are holed up in refugee camps in surrounding countries. To date, only 700 have been resettled in the U.S., but this may change. On May 21, 14 U.S. senators signed a letter urging President Obama to expand the refugee program to allow 65,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. by the end of 2016. This would require either a dramatic increase in the current 70,000 annual cap on all refugees, or a policy decision that would force persons from other countries to take a back seat to Syrians.
Because of the chaos in Syria, it will be virtually impossible to vet these people, according to the FBI. How many will be members of ISIS or some other terrorist group? Since ISIS members may already be here; there is little doubt more will come.
A plethora of special programs allow persons into America outside the usual immigration process, including “diversity” visas, the refugee program, asylum seekers (asylees) and their families (“follow to join”). Refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan have their own special program, Special Immigrant Visas (SIV). The table on this page shows the latest data from these various programs.
Additionally, special programs allow about 20,000 Cubans and Haitians to emigrate to the U.S. annually, with the same benefits received by refugees and asylees. There is even a “Rainbow Welcome Initiative” that funds a nonprofit contractor (Heartland Alliance International, LLC) to meet the special needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) refugees and asylees. Government funds 87 percent of the $10 million nonprofit. CEO Sid Mohn makes $330,000 per year in pay and benefits according to Heartland’s 2014 tax return. Combined, the top four officers receive about $850,000 per year—almost all on the taxpayer.
Finally, in 1991, the government created “Temporary Protected Status” to grant legal status in the U.S. to Salvadoran illegal aliens and others fleeing war or natural disaster in Central America. Currently, over 300,000 TPS aliens in the U.S. are entitled to all the benefits of other legal permanent residents. While they are supposed to be “temporary,” TPS enrollees simply re-enroll when their status expires. Most have been here since the 1990s.
In December 2013, the Obama administration announced an in-country refugee program for Central American Minors (CAMs) that allows persons under 21 years of age from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador direct travel to the U.S. While those countries tragically suffer from high crime and poor economic conditions, merely being a member of an afflicted population does not raise a person to the definition of “refugee.” By offering this status, the Obama administration is deliberately expanding the definition, an action that has been called a “rogue family reunification program.”
Major Foundation Supporters
Primary funding for the VOLAGs comes from the federal and state governments. But many secondary immigrant/refugee advocacy and assistance organizations are supported by wealthy state and national foundations whose assets total tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars. Most of these well-established foundations are the Left’s primary source of support outside government. Below is a sampling of noteworthy radical-Left foundations supporting the immigrant/refugee effort.
Bauman Foundation: Grantees include a who’s who of the radical Left. Director Patricia Bauman is a trust-fund leftist, also involved in other major radical left operations such as Catalist, which J. Christian Adams has called “Obama’s database for fundamentally transforming America,” Democracy Alliance, and the Brennan Center for Justice. She also advises J Street, the Soros-created Astroturf pro-Palestinian “Jewish” group. (The Bauman Foundation had 2014 net assets of $84 million; for more, see Foundation Watch, December 2014.)
Ford Foundation: Financed creation of the open borders movement and multiculturalism in the 1960s. Funded creation and growth of the radical Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), which spawned the DREAM Act concept, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, which gave us Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor. It is credited with turning the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) from a conservative group that helped Hispanics assimilate into just another radical leftist Hispanic grievance group. Ford’s impact on immigration activism cannot be overstated. (2013 net assets, $12.1 billion)
Gill Foundation: Founded by software billionaire Tom Gill, who along with Pat Stryker, another Colorado-based billionaire, provided most of the funding for the “Colorado Miracle” which turned the then-solidly Republican state Democrat blue in the 2004 and 2008 elections. Their effort was dubbed The Blueprint by authors Rob Witwer and Adam Schrager (who wrote a book with that name), and in 2005 it provided a template for the secretive left-wing funding cabal known as the Democracy Alliance. Gill supports Welcoming America organizations in Colorado, Tennessee, and Oregon. (2013 net assets, $234.4 million; for more on the Colorado Miracle, see Organization Trends, July 2013.)
Open Society Institute/Foundations: Through his philanthropies, anti-American hedge fund manager George Soros funds hundreds of radical nonprofits and causes. Soros is a major open borders advocate. From 2010 to 2013, Soros’s Open Society Institute provided $1.7 million to the National Partnership for New Americans (OSI 2013 net assets, $953.7 million). Soros’s Foundation to Promote Open Society had net assets $2.5 billion in 2013. The Soros Fund Charitable Foundation had 2013 net assets of $280 million. The Baltimore Open Society Institute (a.k.a. Alliance for Open Society International) had 2013 net assets of $2.4 million.
Public Welfare Foundation: A well-connected, long-established D.C.-based fund, PWF generously services a who’s who of the radical Left, including the Tides Center, ACLU, Van Jones’s Color of Change, the Marxist newspaper In These Times, the radical-left Economic Policy Institute, the Blue Green Alliance (which is the renamed Apollo Alliance, a shady group of labor, environment, Democratic Party representatives who wrote Obama’s stimulus), the Center for American Progress, and many more. (2013 net assets, $488 million) PWF president Mary McClymont previously served as board chair for the Migration Policy Center, national director for legalization at the Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Catholic Conference, president and chief executive officer of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international development and humanitarian nongovernmental organizations (dedicated to the U.N.’s Sustainable Development agenda), various positions with the Ford Foundation, and trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. She is the co-founder of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees; chaired the board of the Migration Policy Institute; and served on the boards of Physicians for Human Rights, Amnesty International, the Advisory Committee of Elma Philanthropies Services, and the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid, U.S. Agency for International Development. Currently, she serves on the board of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers and the advisory board of New Perimeter, a global pro bono initiative of the law firm DLA Piper.
NEO Philanthropy: Formerly called Public Interest Projects, NEO spent $15.7 million in 2013 to “promote strongly aligned and effective immigrant rights organizations working to advance immigration policy and reform; immigrant civil engagement and integration; and defense of immigrant rights.” This includes Alabama Appleseed ($50,000), Arab Community Center ($100,000), Border Action Network ($125,000), Border Network for Human Rights ($390,000), CASA de Maryland ($270,000), Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition ($360,725), Comunidades Unidas ($15,000), Welcoming America ($89,000), TIRRC ($469,000), Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition ($210,000) and many others. Board member Patricia Bauman is the director of the Bauman Foundation. (NEO 2013 net assets, $19.6 million)
New World Foundation: Established in 1954, NWF operates as a national community foundation, bragging that “our grantmaking programs have become collaborative funds.” Its goal: “build a progressive new majority for America…” Board member Don Hazenis is the former publisher of Mother Jones and the current editor of AlterNet and the Independent Media Institute, both far-Left media organizations. NWF president Colin Greer joined the secretive Soros machine, Democracy Alliance, in 2014. NWF board chairman Kent Wong is director of the UCLA Labor Center, vice president of the California Federation of Teachers, and a former SEIU attorney. Board member Sofia Campos, when a UCLA undergraduate, taught that school’s first “Undocumented Student Experience” seminar and organized with the California DREAM Act, the federal DREAM Act, and the Right to Dream campaigns. She serves as board chair of United We Dream, “the first and largest network of undocumented immigrant youth.” (2013 NWF assets, $29 million)
Unbound Philanthropy: Claims it is dedicated to “Welcoming newcomers. Strengthening communities.” Its mission is to“transform long-standing but solvable barriers to the human rights of migrants and refugees and their integration into host societies.…” Grant recipients include the National Immigration Forum, National Immigration Law Center, American Immigration Council, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, Media Matters, Tides Foundation, the radical-left Southern Poverty Law Center, and Hillary Clinton’s favorite think tank: the Center for American Progress. Unbound financed the pro-refugee propaganda film Welcome to Shelbyville. Since 2008, Unbound has provided at least $2.4 million to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and its net assets in 2013 were $141 million.
Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program: Vanguard offers customers donor-advised funds, which allow customers to channel donations to organizations of the donor’s choosing, although in practice directors of donor-advised funds often recommend organizations and initiatives to support. Donor-advised funds are also often used by foundations that wish to mask their money flows to controversial grantees. Thus Vanguard has been the conduit for extensive support of immigration “reform” groups like Welcoming America. It provided over $22 million to the International Rescue Committee between 2005 and 2013. (2014 net assets $4.5 billion)
Y&H Soda Foundation: Says its mission is to support “nonprofit and Catholic organizations committed to the full participation and prosperity of the underserved in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties,” which are located in eastern San Francisco Bay. Y&H Soda has provided $155,000 to welcoming projects in California since 2011; it has also funded numerous other local immigrant organizations, including the International Institute of the Bay Area (IIBA), which has its own “Immigrant Voices” program. The most prominent is East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, which claims to be “the largest affirmative asylum program in the country,” representing over 500 asylum applicants per year. Through the Tides Center, Y&H has supported the Arab Resource and Organizing Center. AROC provides legal and refugee/asylum application assistance to Bay area Muslims. Y&H donated about $500,000 in 2012 to its various immigration projects. (2013 net assets, $129 million)
Reynolds legacy: The Mary Reynolds-Babcock Foundation and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation of North Carolina are legacies of the Reynolds Tobacco and Aluminum fortunes, and both fund radical-Left agendas and organizations throughout the U.S. The Babcock Foundation, for example, has provided funds for numerous Welcoming America sponsors. (2013 assets, $182.4 million; Z. Smith Reynolds was profiled inFoundation Watch, June 2013)
Tides Foundation: The notorious Tides is a pass-through fund which launders money for wealthy donors who want to support radical causes without being identified. R.J. Reynolds’ granddaughter, Nancy Jane Lehman, co-founded Tides in San Francisco along with New Left organizer Drummond Pike (2013 net assets, $142.3 million). Its sister organization, the Tides Center, was directed for years by ACORN founder and director Wade Rathke (2013 nets assets, $68.2 million). Tides Center lists “support to resettle displaced Iraqi refugees” and to combat “inhumane immigration policy…” among its 2013 activities. Related organizations include the Tides Network (2013 revenues, $13.7 million), Tides, Inc. (2013 net assets, $432,000), and Tides Two Rivers Fund.
Arca Foundation: This left-wing donor, based in Washington, D.C., features prominently in the radical Left’s immigration agenda. Founded by Nancy Susan Reynolds, who was Nancy Jane Lehman’s mother and R.J. Reynolds’ youngest daughter, it funds such groups as the Tides Foundation, Center for American Progress, Demos, Media Matters for America, the Soros-created Jewish Astroturf organization J Street—which poses as a Jewish group but advocates the Palestinian cause—and the National Iranian American Council, which Robert Spencer calls “the Mullah’s Mouthpiece.” (2013 net assets, $55.7 million; profiled in Foundation Watch, October 2011)
The federal government pays nine primary national contractors to resettle refugees and asylees. These voluntary agencies or VOLAGs are listed below with their initialisms:
- CWS: Church World Service
- ECDC: Ethiopian Community Development Council
- HIAS: Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
- IRC: International Rescue Committee
- LIRS: Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services
- CC/USCCB: Catholic Charities/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
- USCRI: U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
- EMM: Episcopal Migration Ministries
- WRI: World Relief Inc.
There are 350 federal subcontractors in 190 cities, all affiliated with the nine main refugee VOLAGs, but cataloging them is beyond the scope of this paper.
Amounts awarded by the federal government to these 9 contractors since 2008 are shown in the table on page 5. These data are likely incomplete, because the contractors are often listed under more than one name or the name has been entered incorrectly.
Because they are non-governmental organizations (NGOs), they can and do lobby for advantageous changes to immigration law and build allies in Congress and the bureaucracy, all fertilized by an open spigot of taxpayer dollars. While six of the nine contractors are affiliated with religious groups, the false notion that they are charitable organizations just doing the Lord’s work needs to be corrected. They are federal contractors, relying on the government for most, and sometimes all, of their income. This is big business. They do the government’s bidding, whether it honors religious principles or not.
Furthermore, the denominations represented all promote left-wing policies. Many reflect the “Social Gospel” i.e. the effort to marry socialist ideas with Christian doctrine begun by “Progressives” at the turn of the last century. Many are directly or indirectly connected to communists and communist ideas like so-called “liberation theology,” which was a KGB creation according to former Romanian intelligence chief Ion Pacepa in his book Disinformation.
Church World Service: CWS is a subsidiary of the National Council of Churches, which was formed in 1950 from the Federal Council of Churches, which was often accused of being a communist front group. The Federal Council was one of the early promoters of social gospel. That tradition was carried forward by the National Council of Churches, where socialist ideology found a natural home.
NCC president Jim Winkler is a typical radical leftist. He called for impeachment of President Bush in 2006. He co-chaired the board of Healthcare Now! with Steelworkers’ president Leo Gerard, who advocated violence against tea partiers, and the socialist Quentin Young. Young was Obama’s personal physician for 20 years and his mentor on single-payer healthcare.
In addition to revenue streams from government, Church World Service has received funding from Soros, Ford, Tides, the Vanguard Fund, and many others.
Catholic Charities/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: These nominally Catholic organizations are the largest VOLAGs, with hundreds of offices spread throughout the country. They are prominent members of the open borders/amnesty movement. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) is “the domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops” and a grant-making vehicle of the USCCB. It was founded in Chicago in 1969 with the help of radical organizer Saul Alinsky, specifically to fund Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation. CCHD has been a radical leftist funding vehicle ever since, giving millions to ACORN, the radical training school Midwest Academy, and others. The Industrial Areas Foundation, where a young Barack Obama was trained in “community organizing” with financial support from the Chicago Archdiocese, receives the largest percentage of CCHD grants of any CCHD grantee.
President Obama had this to say about CCHD:
I got my start as a community organizer working with mostly Catholic parishes on the Southside of Chicago that were struggling because the steel plants had closed. The Campaign for Human Development helped fund the project and so, very early on, my career was intertwined with the belief in social justice that is so strong in the Church.
USCCB founded the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., a $7 million subsidiary which assists illegal aliens based on “the Gospel value of welcoming the stranger.” It aggressively promotes amnesty, believing that “all goods of the earth belong to all people. When persons cannot find employment in their country of origin to support themselves and their families, they have a right to find work elsewhere in order to survive. Sovereign nations should provide ways to accommodate this right.” USCCB has 270 field offices in 47 states. Board members include Donald D. Taylor, president of the extreme-left union UNITE HERE!
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society: HIAS describes itself as a “major implementing partner of the United Nations Refugee Agency and the U.S. Department of State.” HIAS claims to be the oldest refugee resettlement agency in the world. It provides pro bono legal services for asylum applications and removal hearings. Services include “Filings with USCIS, Representation at Asylum Interviews (Credible Fear Interviews, Reasonable Fear Interviews), Representation before the Immigration Court, Representation before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), and Federal court appeals.” HIAS lists its values as “Welcoming, Dignity and Respect, Empowerment, Excellence and Innovation, Collaboration and Teamwork, and Accountability.”
HIAS President Mark Hetfield is credited with transforming HIAS from a small agency focused on Jewish immigrants to “a global agency assisting refugees of all faiths and ethnicities.” Donors include Vanguard and Tides Foundation.
International Rescue Committee: IRC is run by British Labour Party politician, David Miliband. His brother, “Red Ed” Miliband, Labour’s pick for prime minister, lost in the United Kingdom’s most recent election. Miliband’s father was a hardcore Marxist. While Miliband distanced himself from his father’s extremist views, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. As environment minister in Tony Blair’s Labour government, David Miliband turned global warming into a primary policy agenda, seeking to make all private homes “carbon neutral” and requiring nanny-state compliance inspections. He warned British citizens that having “energy inefficient homes” would become “painful” for them.
Miliband advocates raising the refugee cap above 70,000 and resettling 65,000 Syrians in the U.S., despite the impossible task of vetting them all for possible terrorist ties. Miliband earns a cool $500,000 for his “rescue” work.
IRC and Miliband have friends in George Soros, the Clintons, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. Among its other support, IRC has received $1.2 million from George Soros’s philanthropies and $2 million from the Ford Foundation over the past decade.
World Relief Inc.: Initially founded in 1947 as War Relief of the National Association of Evangelicals to address humanitarian needs of post-war Europe, it was renamed World Relief in 1950. WRI is the largest evangelical refugee resettlement agency in America. It serves in “education, health, child development, agriculture, food security, anti-trafficking, immigrant services, micro-enterprise, disaster response and refugee resettlement.” In fiscal 2014, WRI dedicated about 62 percent of program revenues ($32 million) to resettling and providing extended services to 13,508 refugees and legal assistance to 11,000 immigrants. In keeping with Obama’s “Welcoming” agenda, WRI has submitted its contribution in the form of a free PDF, “Welcoming the Stranger.” (It is available at http://welcomingthestranger.com.)
World Relief obtains 70 percent of its funding through government contracts. Private foundation supporters include the Vanguard Charitable Foundation, Mustard Seed Foundation, Soros Fund Charitable Foundation, Pfizer Foundation, Global Impact and many others.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: LIRS has been involved in refugee resettlement for decades. Its most recent publicly available IRS filing lists 17 Lutheran and many unrelated facilities nationwide receiving refugee resettlement grants from LIRS. Both HIAS and Catholic Charities are listed as grant recipients, so apparently these organizations cross-pollinate. In addition to refugee resettlement, LIRS has been actively involved in processing what the immigration industry calls UACs (unaccompanied alien children).
LIRS CEO Linda Hartke served as chief-of-staff to former U.S. Rep. Chester Atkins (D-Mass.) in the 1990s. She later took positions with Church World Service and on National Council of Church’s board of directors. Her most recent post was director of the Geneva-based Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance. Hartke wants LIRS to help create “communities of welcome” for illegal immigrants and refugees. She earns $228,000 in pay and benefits, according to IRS filings.
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants: USCRI formed as the International Institute in 1911, a brainchild of the YWCA, and became a VOLAG in 1977. Today, USCRI has 29 partner offices in 23 states dedicated to the needs of refugees and immigrants. It receives about 90 percent of revenue from government contracts. USCRI takes credit for inspiring the Obama administration’s new Central American Minors program.
President and chief executive officer Lavinia Limón typifies the revolving door among VOLAG leaders. Limón served as the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement during the Clinton administration. She then moved to the National Immigration Forum. Limón earns about $300,000 per year as CEO, according to USCRI tax filings.
Episcopal Migration Ministries: Officially known as the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church USA, EMM invokes the “welcoming” mantra by listing its first order of business as welcoming services. “Episcopal Migration Ministries’ affiliate partners provide refugees with the information and services they require to thrive in their new communities within just months after arriving.”
EMM does not provide nonprofit tax returns so the proportion of its budged received from government is not known, but since 2008, EMM has received $105.2 million from the federal government for its refugee/immigrant work.
Ethiopian Community Development Council: The smallest of the VOLAGs, ECDC received $16.3 million from government contracts in 2014, 93 percent of its total revenues. In addition, ECDC has received donations from the Open Society Institute, Komen Foundation, the United Way, Tides Foundation, even Citi Foundation (CitiBank), and others.
ECDC testified before Congress last year that the Unaccompanied Alien Children crisis could “lead to the demise of the refugee resettlement program as we know it.” This was primarily a funding concern, given that virtually all of ECDC’s revenue comes from government contracts.
ECDC provides a wide variety of services to refugees, and is involved in other contractual services as well, for example Small Business Administration microloans for new minority businesses.
All these groups like to discuss issues of immigration in terms of pure altruism, generosity, and welcoming the stranger. For some reason, they rarely if ever mention the possibility that politicians may have self-interested motives for supporting high levels of immigration with little oversight. Much less do the groups mention that they themselves have found that by generously welcoming strangers to our land, they can receive bountiful subsidies of tax dollars that underwrite hefty salaries for persons who claim to act only from the most selfless motives.
Capital Research Center
James Simpson is an economist, businessman, and freelance writer. His writings have been published in Accuracy in Media, American Thinker, Big Government, Washington Times, WorldNetDaily, FrontPage Magazine, and elsewhere. This article was based on a short book by Simpson, The Red Green Axis: Refugees, Immigration and the Agenda to Erase America, published last month by Center for Security Policy Press.