Republican legislators seek to defund NGOs that earned $2 billion by exploiting the border crisis

An investigation by 'The Free Press' brought to light the lucrative business of several organizations and their directors, who managed to obtain compensation of more than a million dollars.

The crisis caused by the influx of millions of illegal immigrants  during every year of Joe Biden´s tenure has proven to be enormously profitable for several NGOs. An investigation by The Free Press (TheFP) revealed that these organizations saw their revenues, funded by taxpayer dollars, and their managers' salaries increase by billions. In response, the House Oversight Committee, with all present Democrats dissenting, voted to defund these organizations, accusing them of exacerbating the border crisis.

From $597 million to $2,000 million in three years

Last Tuesday, Maddie Rowley published the results of his research on several NGOs that work with immigrants on the southern border, which demonstrate that these organizations have obtained billions of dollars in subsidies and tax exemptions for the resettlement of unaccompanied minors. Although this falls under the federally funded Unaccompanied Minors Program, this task is largely delegated to NGOs that operate shelters in Texas, Arizona and California.

In recent years, the massive entry of minors without parents or legal guardians has skyrocketed, and the coffers of these NGOs even more so. In 2022, the date up to which Rowley has been able to contrast the activities and economic reports of these entities, the record arrival of 130,000 (121,000 in 2021) unaccompanied children or adolescents was recorded. The journalist focused her investigation on three of the main organizations of this type (Global Refuge, Southwest Key Programs and Endeavors INC.), and found that their joint income went from $597 million in 2019 to exceed $2 billion in 2022.

Southwest Key CEO earned more than a million dollars

Along with revenues, executive salaries have also skyrocketed, in particular, the emoluments pocketed by the CEO of Southwest Key, Anselmo Villarreal, stand out, which exceeded one million dollars. Although not to the same extent, he is not the only one who benefits, according to TheFP. Without leaving this organization, the chief strategist earned $800,000 and the head of operations, $700,000. The data indicates that this organization spent 465 million on payroll in 2022. For her part, the CEO of Global Refuge, Krish O'Mara Vignarajah - who was political director for First Lady Michelle Obama - went from earning $244,000 in 2019 to $520,000 in just 3 years.

Another example of the explosion that the migratory crisis has meant for the business, which Rowley highlights in his article that Global Refuge went from having 75 employees to the 550 it currently has and which it hopes will reach 700 by the end of 2024. Something that, according to O'Mara Vignarajah, has a simple explanation: "We've grown because the need has grown."

Music therapy or therapies with pets or plants

One of the key points is how - apart from salaries - these organizations have invested the millions received. And Rowley found the items shocking, to say the least: "For example, Endeavors uses taxpayer funds to offer migrant children 'pet therapy,' 'horticulture therapy,' and music therapy. In 2021 alone, Endeavors paid $533,000 to Christy Merrell, a music therapist. An internal Endeavors PowerPoint obtained by America First Legal, an organization founded by former Trump advisor Stephen Miller, showed that the non-profit organization carried out 1,656 'interactions between people and plants' and 287 pet therapy sessions between April 2021 and March 2023.”