Inspector general dings DHS over money spent on migrant welcome program

Homeland Security misspent money on its program to pay local nonprofits to welcome illegal immigrants caught and released into the country, according to an inspector general’s report that dinged the department for failing to oversee how the money was spent.

The inspector general said more than 50% of the funds it studied may have been spent improperly.

Known as the humanitarian relief program of the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, the money is paid to nonprofits to conduct COVID testing, provide bus or plane tickets for migrants to go from the border to destinations in the U.S., and assist them with housing and other needs once they arrive.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency runs the program, chairing a national board of nonprofits with the United Way serving as the muscle. The board doles money out to local nonprofits.

The program has grown under the Biden administration amid the border breakdown and record numbers of migrants being caught and released into the U.S.

The board hides its activities, with the United Way referring questions about program spending back to Homeland Security.

The Washington Times filed a Freedom of Information Act request with FEMA for details of the spending last September but has yet to receive any data.

Homeland Security’s inspector general studied some of the program’s $110 million in spending during 2021 and found the local nonprofits often used the money for purposes beyond what was intended.

In nearly a quarter of cases tested, investigators said the people getting services weren’t even eligible. Most of those were migrants who sneaked in successfully, evading Border Patrol agents, so they never went through the catch-and-release process. Others were caught and released years ago, yet still showed up for newcomer services.

Investigators also found instances where the local nonprofits were spending money without documenting who they were spending it on.

The audit, released Wednesday, said the program is susceptible to “misuse or fraud.”

“These issues occurred because, although FEMA and the National Board developed the detailed funding and application guidance for the humanitarian relief funds, they did not provide sufficient oversight to enforce the guidance to ensure funds were used as intended,” the inspector general concluded.

The audit studied $12.9 million spent in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. It challenged $7.4 billion — or 58% — as either unsupported or wrongly spent

Auditors said FEMA should review that money and “resolve” any problems.

FEMA, in its response, said it believed the money was spent “in accordance” with the program’s goals.

The agency did agree to update its funding request form to prod local nonprofits to make sure they are spending money only on intended migrants.

FEMA said it hopes to have that done by the end of June.

* Article From: The Washington Times