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Texas Republican pushes bill to vet taxpayer-funded immigration charities

By Ben Marquis
|
May 23, 2023

Republicans have raised concerns that President Joe Biden's lax border security and immigration enforcement policies have encouraged and exacerbated illegal human smuggling and trafficking operations at the southern border and throughout the entire United States.

Some have also alleged that certain federally funded charities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are aiding and facilitating such human trafficking and now Republican Rep. Lance Gooden (TX-05) plans to file legislation to address that particular concern, Fox News reported.

If passed, Gooden's bill would cut all federal funding to immigration-related charities and NGOs unless they could certify that they are in full compliance with all federal laws against human trafficking and the cross-border smuggling of illegal aliens.

The "Protecting Federal Funds from Human Trafficking and Smuggling Act of 2023"

In a statement to Fox News last week, Rep. Gooden said, "By ensuring that federal funds are not awarded to organizations that engage in these heinous activities, we can safeguard taxpayer dollars and hold bad actors accountable."

His planned legislation would be titled the "Protecting Federal Funds from Human Trafficking and Smuggling Act of 2023," and it would impose new standards to require all NGOs to certify with the Office of Management and Budget that they are in compliance with all applicable federal laws on human trafficking and smuggling.

In a tweet posted on the same day as the Fox News article, Gooden wrote that 72 percent of all trafficking victims in the U.S. are immigrants, with the vast majority being in the country illegally, and that "Now would be a good time for Joe Biden to stop funding NGOs that fuel human trafficking.

House Judiciary and Oversight Committees Launch Investigations of NGOs

Just days prior to that announcement, Gooden had joined with Republican House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (OH-04) and others in sending a letter to Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas to demand a "comprehensive review of all documents, communications, and agreements" between DHS and NGOs with regard to the provision of "food, lodging, and transportation to illegal aliens encountered at the southwest border."

"Transparency and accountability are non-negotiable elements of our public institutions," Gooden said at that time. "We owe it to the American people to ensure that their taxpayer dollars are used responsibly and effectively."

The letter set a deadline of May 30 for DHS and Mayorkas to respond to the requests that seek to "clarify the extent and nature" of the relationships between DHS and the NGOs as well as details on the "competitive procedures" -- or lack thereof -- used by DHS in deciding which NGOs will be awarded federal funding.

That letter to DHS Sec. Mayorkas, according to Fox News, coincided with the launch of an investigation by the House Judiciary Committee into the federally funded immigration-related NGOs that "receive hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars through federal grants to provide free food, lodging, and transportation for illegal aliens to be released anywhere they want in the United States."

The investigation was launched in response to whistleblowers who asserted that the Biden administration, for all intents and purposes, was effectively facilitating a "sophisticated network" of "labor trafficking" that specifically involved "unaccompanied minors" being handed off to insufficiently scrutinized or completely unvetted sponsors and then forced to work as indentured servants or slave labor.

Gooden told Fox News that while both the Judiciary and Oversight Committees were investigating the matter, "We know through whistleblowers and migrants themselves that this funding is going toward federal handouts including lodging, transportation, debit cards, and free legal advice."

He also revealed that he had sent similar letters requesting information to a number of different NGOs but had yet to receive any response.

NGOs Helping Trafficked Migrants Spread Around Country

In December, the Heritage Foundation's Oversight Project released a report titled "Tracking Movement of Illegal Aliens from NGOs to Interior of USA" that showed how the federally funded NGOs were helping recently arrived illegal aliens to travel to and settle within nearly all of the nation's 435 congressional districts.

That revelation came via an investigation that obtained an anonymous sampling of around 30,000 mobile devices given to newly arrived migrants and then tracking the "pings" off those devices as they moved about the country.

"The investigation confirmed that a host of NGOs are actively facilitating the Biden border crisis. Overflow from Customs and Border Protection is being transferred to these organizations so that Border Patrol avoids overcrowded facilities," the report stated. "These organizations apply for, and receive, taxpayer money to provide processing and transportation services and infrastructure to facilitate the migration of illegal aliens into the interior of the country."

Oversight Project Director Mike Howell said at the time that President Biden's policies were mostly to blame for the chaos at the southern border but noted that "The NGOs are happy to step into the breach and form the final link in the drug cartels’ human smuggling operation, ensuring these individuals make it all around the country. Biden’s border crisis has long had nationwide consequences. This is the most shocking proof yet."