Report: Refugees Receiving Interest-Free Loans

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After failing to receive a response to a Freedom of Information Act request, Judicial Watch has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State seeking records on the number of Refugee Travel Loans issued by the State’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration to the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration from 2010 to present.

The lawsuit also seeks the number of loans defaulted on and the amount of money written off on each defaulted loan.

Funding for refugee aid and relief work abroad is provided by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and its admissions office is responsible for settling refugees in the United States. The bureau spent nearly $545 million in 2016 “to provide new beginnings to the world’s most vulnerable refugees,” while more than $2.8 billion was spent on “humanitarian assistance overseas.”

The United Nations’ International Organization for Migration received $103 million from the bureau.

Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, The International Organization for Migration (IOM) operates on an annual budget of $1.4 billion and has a staff of 9,000 throughout the world. The organization provides interest-free loans “furnished by the Department of State” to “all refugees arriving in the United States,” according to its website.

The IOM offers interest-free travel loans to all refugees entering the United States. Borrowers must sign a promissory note prior to departure, committing to repay the loan within 46 months after arrival in the United States.

The Department of State provides funds for the IOM to arrange refugee travel. Loan repayments by refugees are received by IOM and returned to the Department of State for use by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration to defray the cost of future refugee travel.

In July 2016, the International Organization for Migration became a part of the United Nations through the adoption of a unanimous resolution.

According to The Washington Post, the nine resettlement agencies contracted by the Department of State to resettle refugees in the U.S. earn more than $5 million a year in commissions on refugee debt collection.

“The State Department has stonewalled our request for refugee loans and associated taxpayer losses for a year — an unlawful delay that screams ‘cover up,’” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This is an opportunity for the Trump State Department to come clean and clean up this refugee welfare program.”

H/T: Judicial Watch

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