Refugee & Asylee Resettlement is a big money business and it’s YOUR MONEY that funds it. Let’s connect the dots. I served on the board of Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains (LFSRM) from 2006 to 2012, ultimately as the vice-chair of Program Services. LFSRM is one of the largest resettlement organizations in the region. My heart became troubled as I came to understand how big government bureaucracies and the United Nations have incrementally coopted charities.
Today, agencies such as LFSRM pay staff salaries & benefits to assist refugee’s applications for food stamps, healthcare, rent assistance, energy assistance, cash assistance, TANF (formerly Welfare) and more. This is a far cry from the stories of immigrants that I heard as a kid. “Individuals wanted to come to America because it was the land of opportunity. They knew that if they worked hard and played by the rules, they would make a better life for themselves and their families. They did not expect a hand-out.” A friend recently recommended a book, Lili’s Story, My Memory of the Holocaust by Lili Susser. Lili notes when her family immigrated to America after WWII, they received two weeks rent, a week’s groceries and were then on their own. With hard work and perseverance they built successful lives.
Over the years, LFSRM has done good work for our vulnerable and that is why I donated my time & money to the organization. However, as government money got involved, I realized that LFSRM was no longer a charity and had become a quasi-governmental non-profit. Per the 2013/2014, 990 (the IRS document non-profits file) $11.5 million of LFSRM’ $13.6 million budget was comprised of government grants. Additionally, the CEO was paid $209,000.00 and the vice-president of Refugee Services $122,596.00 plus benefits. The Denver Business Journal ranks LFSRM the 19th largest Human Service Organization in Colorado. With a current budget of $16.18 million that’s a cool $2.58 million increase in a year. And nearly half of the budget goes to salaries and benefits.
We must ask ourselves, how is giving tax money and benefits to refugees fair to our young people who are struggling to find jobs and pay off student loans? How is this fair to our seniors living on fixed incomes? And how is it fair to the single mom who is working to get ahead?
Governor Hickenlooper is indicating his willingness to import refugees from Syria and the Middle East to Colorado. In light of what’s happening in the world, it defies reason that he not pause and take a breath in regards to the refugee resettlement program. With limited documentation and potential for fake passports, it is not possible to properly vet these individuals. Until we, as Americans, are 100% assured that no terrorists are included in the estimated 70,000 refugees slated to come to the U.S., the refugee resettlement programs must be suspended immediately. It only takes one or a few to hurt our children, our communities and our wellbeing. The risk is too great! A South Africa Today article refers to a U.N. report that 72% of these refugees are men. We must ask ourselves, what is the character of these men who leave women and children behind in war torn areas? What is their motivation to abandon their vulnerable? Governor Hickenlooper must say “no” to the Administration’s request.
What can you do? Contact Gov. Hickenlooper and the board of directors of LFSRM and ask that they suspend the Refugee Resettlement and Asylee programs until fool-proof vetting procedures are in place and demand that no tax dollars be used for these programs.