Starting last year, the Biden administration began doling out huge chunks of taxpayer money to a radical left-wing nonprofit organization for the specific purpose of helping illegal immigrant minors avoid deportation.
"While the federal government often engages in the contracting and funding of nonprofits, they typically try to avoid dealing with overtly political institutions. Not this time," wrote Adam Andrzejewski, CEO and founder of government watchdog group Open the Books.
What are the details?
Andrzejewski's organization reported that in March 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services entered into a $158 million contract with the Vera Institute of Justice to "provide immigration related legal services to unaccompanied minors."
According to USASpending.gov, a federal contract database, the agreement was upped to $164 million early this year and has the potential to climb to $198.5 million by the time it is set to expire in March 2022.
In addition to funding from the HHS, the institute also received five additional contracts totaling $36.8 million from the Department of Justice to provide legal services for family groups, unaccompanied children's custodians, and the "immigration court help desk," Just the News reported.
The HHS money appeared to be part of the $2 billion earmarked for health initiatives that the agency rerouted last spring to help manage the immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Vera Institute is an overtly political organization that supports a slew of progressive initiatives such as widespread bail reform, defunding the police, and weakening immigration enforcement. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the group called for the release of all illegal immigrants from U.S. Customs and Enforcement detention.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that the institute is backed by liberal megadonor George Soros, having received more than $10 million in funding from Soros' Open Society Foundation from 2016 to 2019.
Yet despite its clear political bias, the Vera Institute has been the benefactor of federal funding for some time, predating Biden's presidency. During the Trump administration, from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, almost $137 million of the group's $174 million in revenue came from government grants, according to the institute's tax forms.
When reached by Fox News for comment last month, a spokesperson for the institute said that 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."
"Many children face these immigration proceedings alone," she continued, noting, "Many children 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. Other children require legal assistance to seek to voluntarily repatriate to their countries of origin."
She added that the "vast majority" of the group's federal funding is used to subcontract legal service providers throughout the country.
Andrzejewski wrote that because illegal immigrants are not citizens, they aren't entitled to public defenders. So, "to fix this, the Vera Institute has created an entire workaround to U.S. law where, even though illegal immigrants aren’t entitled to free legal representation, the government still pays for it through organizations like the Vera Institute."
On its website, Vera states that it "is committed to ensuring that every person facing deportation receives legal representation regardless of ... history with the criminal legal system."
The HHS reportedly did not respond to requests for comment from Fox News or Just the News.