Cash debit cards are being handed out not only to illegal immigrants but to “repeat border crossers.” Todd Bensman reports on one of his trips to Reynosa, Mexico’s migrant camp where he took photo documentation of a United Nations-supported International Organization for Migration (IOM) handing out the money.
One of two workers at a plastic folding table inside the Reynosa camp, which was filled to capacity with at least 1,200 mostly U.S.-expelled Central Americans, said they were distributing the cards for IOM to help migrants waiting until they cross the Rio Grande at greater leisure to claim asylum, for which most will be declared ineligible years later.
Many parents, for instance, got about $400 every 15 days, I was told, or $800 a month if they were still there to collect it, although the support level varied.
When Bensman tweeted the photos he took, Republican lawmakers were outraged, as they saw the images as evidence that the U.S. taxpayer-funded 10M was providing material support to an ongoing mass migration harmful to America’s national interest.”
Bensman admits “when I took the photos, I wasn’t exactly sure of exactly what I was seeing in Reynosa.”
But, he continues, “here’s what I have learned since: The money card is confirmed beyond doubt, but also ‘hard cash in envelopes’ and ‘movement assistance’; and an online IOM ‘Emergency Manual’ describes what I saw as part of a program it terms ‘Cash-Based Interventions,’ or CBIs.”
Therefore, Bensman investigative report continues:
A couple of weeks later, Texas Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas, and 11 other House Republican co-sponsors introduced the “No Tax Dollars for the United Nations Immigration Invasion Act” bill. It would prohibit the $3.8 billion in contributions currently proposed in the White House 2022 budget to the IOM and other UN-supported organizations. A Daily Caller story that broke news of the bill’s introduction quoted Gooden citing my Reynosa photos…
…So, for starters, country-specific IOM “Cash Working Groups” are indeed coordinating the handouts of the cash-holding plastic cards I saw (referred to as prepaid debit cards, e-wallets and e-cards) to intending U.S. border crossers in Reynosa, Mexico. But it turns out that is just an iceberg tip. The IOM is handing out cash and other material support to intending illegal border crossers in as many as 100 other shelters it helped build, expand, or supports from Central America north.
Some form of this has been around for years, but starting with a mass-migration event and Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy in 2019, the IOM supercharged the program and “institutionalized” it. This doubled the countries where it is used in 2020 and increased by 77 percent the number of recipients to 1.6 million worldwide, according to an annual 2020 IOM report. That would include Mexico.
The IOM Emergency Manual document says this cash assistance also includes less-seeable bank transfers, mobile transfers, and e-vouchers that go to intending illegal border crossers en route or at least temporarily blocked like many of those I saw and interviewed in Reynosa. In addition to those and the pre-paid plastic cards, the IOM says in its Emergency Manual that it also sometimes hands out “cash in envelopes (hard cash).” No details are offered on that.
Many payments are given as “unconditional; unrestricted cash transfers” for “multi-purpose use,” the manual says. Still other handouts subsidize the lodging, rent, and utilities of intending border crossers for “safe tenure, to reduce the risk of forced eviction.”