Border surge a boon for charities receiving federal grants [tax money]

Article author: 
Marianela Toledo
Article publisher:
Article date: 
16 September 2014
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

Florida nonprofits have taken in more than 3,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America who illegally crossed the southern border, but those organizations are being paid handsomely by taxpayers for their charity.

The Department of Health and Human Services' Tracking Accountability in Government Grants System, or TAGGS, reports Florida nonprofits have received $21 million thus far in 2014 to care for the children who came with a wave of illegals earlier this year.

His House Children's Home in Miami, a nonprofit providing residential care for abused, abandoned and neglected children, received the lion's share of that cash, about $10 million, nearly double what they got last year ...

Catholics Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami received more than $4.3 million to care for 300 border children ...

The Department of Health and Human Services is required by law to care for unaccompanied immigrant children when there is no parent or legal guardian in the United States.

The federal grants are meant to cover costs for temporary housing, medical care and support services.

But details of exactly how the money is being spent haven't been easy to come by ...

So Florida Watchdog contacted all of the charities to find out first hand.

Several, including Catholic Charities, referred questions to the Department of Justice saying “As determined by ORR’s (Office of Refugee and Resettlement) policy, all media requests for any information regarding unaccompanied minors/programs et al in these facilities must be cleared by DOJ,” spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta said in an email.

Others didn’t bother to respond ...

So far, one case of misuse was reported in Florida.  Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services in Pasco County was forced to repay $167,762 for its misuse of federal funds, according to the Tampa Tribune.

But despite the lack of formal oversight procedures, some lawmakers are starting to question the numbers.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, demanded accountability after a Texas television station reported that a nonprofit received $50 million to turn a luxury hotel into a center for unaccompanied minors at a cost to taxpayers of more $166,000 per bed, or $13,889 per month per child ...