Posted on February 8, 2024

Biden Admin. Sends Millions to Religious Nonprofits Facilitating Mass Illegal Migration

Todd Bensman, Center for Immigration Studies, January 30, 2024

As the Center for Immigration Studies recently reported, a United Nations-led “Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP)” calls for more than 200 nonprofit groups to dole out $1.6 billion in cash debit cards, food, clothing, medical treatment, shelter, and even “humanitarian transportation” during 2024 to millions of U.S.-bound immigrants in 17 Latin American nations and Mexico.

But suspicions that the administration of President Joe Biden is directly footing the bill for at least part of facilitating the most voluminous mass migration crisis in U.S. history, now in its fourth straight year, can now be confirmed.

A follow-up CIS examination of the more than 30 faith-based nonprofits among those UN NGO partners — representing Jewish, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventist, Catholic, and nondenominational evangelical organizations — shows that the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have been mainlining taxpayer funds to these groups, which then distribute them to keep hundreds of thousands of migrants comfortably moving toward illegal U.S. southern border crossings.

HIAS. A prime example is the self-described “Jewish American” nonprofit organization HIAS of Silver Spring, Md. (incorporated in 1903 as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), which has pledged $17.1 million in aid to immigrants in at least seven Latin American nations during 2024, the UN’s RMRP planning documents show. It turns out that in FY 2022, 47 percent of revenue reported by HIAS came as grants from government agencies, the majority from the State Department, but some also from the Department of Homeland Security, according to the group’s tax filings and other sources, with the balance coming from a mix of major corporate sponsors and other sources.

But there can be little question about the origins and purpose of at least some of HIAS’s $17 million pledge to the UN’s Latin America migrant trails project. Last year, the State Department’s PRM gave HIAS a $6 million grant for it, according to, a database that tracks federal spending.

The first infusions of another $5.2 million State Department PRM grant to HIAS this year — explicitly for the UN endeavor in Latin America — started arriving in September 2023 with the last of it to come in September of this year, according to

All $11 million was earmarked to HIAS by the State Department’s overseas refugee assistance programs for the Western Hemisphere, which the UN plan aims to support through “direct emergency humanitarian assistance such as food, non-food items, shelter, health, psychosocial support” in major migration transit countries like Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

A UN “activity explorer” database of the participating NGOs shows that some $6.1 million of 2024’s HIAS commitment will go out as cash cards, cash vouchers, and cash in-kind services while most of the rest goes to humanitarian transportation, food, shelter, and various services.


UN budget documents, federal grant-tracking databases, and other public sources show that the State Department’s PRM and USAID also have poured taxpayer money into at least the other religion-oriented NGOs that CIS selected for examination, including Catholic, Lutheran, and Seventh Day Adventist groups. {snip}


But a more critical interpretation of such direct Biden government infusions of taxpayer money — and operational closeness with the UN agency recipients — is that it hurts the country by easing the northward path for mainly economic immigrants who voluntarily make the journey knowing in advance that all of their basic needs will be provided for and that border policies virtually guarantee their entry and long-term stay.

The funding intervention raises the specter that Biden administration appointees in these government agencies, many hailing from NGOs like HIAS, engineered the catch-and-release policies that initially triggered the mass migration crisis in 2021, then arranged for taxpayer money to support the flows. (HIAS publicly lauded the 2021 nomination of DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who served as a HIAS board member.)

Some Republicans have proposed legislation to halt U.S. funding of the UN agencies and their NGO partners, but short of illumination about how it all works, the legislation has gained no traction.


The UN has entrusted faith-based establishment NGOs with handling a lot of the $372 million in “Cash and Voucher Assistance” and “Multipurpose Cash Assistance” the broader endeavor will hand out to an estimated 624,000 migrants “in-transit” to the United States during 2024. That money is most often handed out, other UN documents show, as pre-paid, rechargeable debit cards, but also hard “cash in envelopes”, bank transfers, and mobile transfers that the U.S. border-bound travelers can use for whatever they want.

The Jewish group is hardly alone among faith-based NGOs essentially passing through U.S. taxpayer money to immigrants in just these ways.

Adventists. The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s “global humanitarian arm”, the Silver Spring, Md., Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), plans to distribute more than $10 million, nearly 38 percent of it as cash and cash vouchers and the rest as food, shelter, and hygiene needs in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, and Peru.


Organizations associated with the Catholic Church, collectively, move among the largest volumes of cash and other aid into the hands of U.S.-bound foreign nationals, more than $26 million. Three Jesuit-associated groups are to move some $5.3 million into immigrant hands, while the Catholic Commission for Social Justice sends out nearly $2 million.


Lutherans and More. In FY 2023, USAID awarded Lutheran World Relief a million-dollar grant for this year. The group would hand off about $181,000 supporting immigrants in Latin America.