Feds steer $200M in COVID-19 relief to left-wing nonprofit to aid illegal entrants
The Vera Institute of Justice reportedly received more than $10 million in funding from progressive megadonor George Soros' Open Society Foundation from 2016 to 2019.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
This week's Golden Horseshoe is awarded to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) for $200.5 million in contracts awarded to a George Soros-funded, progressive nonprofit in the past year for legal services for illegal immigrants.
Last year, according to watchdog group Open the Books, HHS awarded a $158 million contract for legal services for unaccompanied, undocumented minors to the Vera Institute of Justice, a left-wing advocacy organization that backs defunding the police, criminal justice and bail reform, and releasing illegal aliens from ICE detention.
The contract is now at $164 million, as an additional $6 million was obligated by HHS in just the last week, according to the federal government's USASPENDING.gov website. The contract amount could potentially reach $198 million.
Of the $164 million, HHS obligated $64 million in COVID-19 relief funds for the legal representation of undocumented unaccompanied minors, according to the contract summary posted on USASPENDING.gov.
HHS did not respond to a request for comment.
"The Vera Institute of Justice is a behemoth progressive nonprofit based out of New York City with well over a $140 million budget, which they use to fund a slate of progressive causes and initiatives across the country," Jason Hopkins, an investigative associate with the Immigration Reform Law Institute, told Fox News. "Whether that be criminal justice reform, bail reform and also immigration."
The Vera Institute of Justice is tied to left-wing megadonor George Soros and received more than $10 million in funding from his Open Society Foundation from 2016 to 2019, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
In addition to the HHS contract award, the DOJ also awarded contracts to the Vera Institute to fund legal services for illegal immigrants in 2021, Just The News has learned.
The DOJ awarded five additional contracts totaling $36.8 million to the group for legal services for family groups, unaccompanied children's custodians, and "immigration court help desk."
Those DOJ contracts include:
- $9.4 million for EOIR, which refers to the Executive Office for Immigration Review
- $12.7 million for legal orientation program
- $4.7 million for family group legal orientation program
- $4.6 million for "immigration court help desk"
- $5.3 million for legal orientation for unaccompanied alien children custodians
The five contracts were all funded by the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which received $284 million in new appropriations in fiscal year 2022, carried over a balance of $48 million from FY2021 and also has "the authority to use $24 million of other budgetary resources," according to its fiscal year summary.
The "agency will not have statistics showing how many noncitizens were served on these current contracts until the end of their periods of performance, which will be later this year," said a department official..
A review of contracts shows the ballooning legal costs for illegal immigrants amid the southern border crisis exploding under the Biden Administration. U.S. taxpayers now have footed $200.5 million in legal bills in 2021, compared to $25.3 million in 2020.
Every year, "thousands of immigrant children are placed into court proceedings in which government prosecutors seek to deport them unless those children can prove they have a right to stay in the United States," a Vera Institute spokesperson told Fox News.
Many children face the proceedings alone and have "legal options that establish their ability to remain in the United States, (such as refugees, trafficking victims, and survivors of crime and abuse), but these options are nearly impossible to access without the assistance of trained attorneys," she told the news outlet. "Other children require legal assistance to seek to voluntarily repatriate to their countries of origin."
The "vast majority" of the federal funding the organization receives, she said, is used to subcontract legal services providers throughout the country.
"The Vera Institute seeks to set up a parallel public defender system that they run with your tax dollars," Adam Andrzejewski, CEO and founder of Open the Books, told Just the News. "With hundreds of millions in taxpayer funding, they are seeking a legal subsidy for illegal entrants. This has troubling public policy implications. For example, Vera is a non-profit entity and is not government. Therefore, they are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, so citizens don't have a right to know and can't follow the money."
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