Judicial Watch: ‘Unlawful’ State Dept ‘Stonewalled’ Request for Refugee Travel Loan, Taxpayer Loss Info

By Andrew Eicher | February 13, 2017 | 3:25 PM EST

Judicial Watch President Tom

Fitton.  (screenshot.) 

(CNSNews.com)Judicial Watch announced on Feb. 7 that it filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State after it “stonewalled” their Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information regarding Refugee Travel Loans and associated taxpayer losses, an “unlawful delay that screams ‘cover up,’” according to Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

The State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration provides funding for the loans to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In 2016, the Bureau “spent nearly $545 million to provide new beginnings to the world’s most vulnerable refugees,” according to their website.

The IOM, which joined the United Nations last year, provides interest-free loans, furnished by the State Department, to “all refugees arriving in the United States,” their website says.

(AP)

These loans can be lucrative to refugee resettlement agencies. The Washington Post reported in December 2015 that refugee resettlement agencies contracted by the State Department collect over $5 million per year in Refugee Travel Loan commissions.

Judicial Watch is seeking records on the number of Refugee Travel Loans issued by the State Department to the IOM from 2010 to the present, including the number of loans defaulted on and the amount of money written off on each defaulted loan.

The lawsuit is in response to the State Department’s failure to respond to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request seeking this information on February 5, 2016.

“This is an opportunity for the Trump State Department to come clean and clean up this refugee welfare program,” remarked Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.