America’s Catholic Bishops Get Rich Off Our Broken Borders

By Joseph D'Hippolito Published on June 12, 2023

As the immense human tragedy at the nation’s southern border unfolds, an organization claiming to fight for the vulnerable remains stone cold silent.

That organization, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, went ballistic when President Donald Trump tried to build a wall to curtail the trafficking in human lives — especially children — and drugs that accompany the kind of open borders Pope Francis advocates. But since Joe Biden entered the White House, and especially since Title 42 expired, the bishops’ public stance resembles the stillness of Death Valley at midnight.

Why the blatant reversal?

The USCCB and various Catholic agencies exploit Latin American migrants entering illegally to enrich themselves with federal money, and to promote a political agenda that would increase their power and influence at the nation’s expense.

Getting Rich Off the Poor

The amount of federal immigration funding Catholic agencies received during the past 15 years grew exponentially. For Fiscal Year 2008, those organizations received $85 million. In Fiscal Year 2022, the total exploded to $618 million. During those 15 years, Catholic groups received $3.053 billion, among the highest totals for all charitable agencies.

Catholic Charities USA led the way with $1.86 billion during that period, with grant totals from individual years ranging from $25 million in 2008 to $383 million last year. The USCCB placed second with $422 million accrued over 15 years. Individual yearly totals increased from $25 million in 2008 to $140 million in 2022.

All those totals can be divided into two categories: prime awards and subawards. Prime awards describe direct federal funding. Subawards describe any money a group receives from an agency getting a prime award.

From 2008-2022, the USCCB received $1.113 billion from Washington in prime awards for immigration, the fifth largest total among all agencies. The USCCB then distributed $743 million in subawards, the most by any single group, with $586 million going to Catholic Charities.

“The USCCB essentially acts as a general contractor having the largest pipeline amongst all the players,” reported Complicit Clergy, which compiled the statistics.

When an Illegal Arrives, the Bishops Cash a Check

So what does the church do with all that federal money?

“Immigration is an income-producing issue at the diocesan level,” wrote Maureen Mullarkey, a conservative Catholic scholar. “As bishops struggle to maintain infrastructure, they have incentive to breathe divine purpose into practical politics.”

Complicit Clergy also noted the $3 billion in federal funding received matches the figure that dioceses and archdioceses lost in settling claims of clerical sex abuse, as The Stream’s John Zmirak reported.

Traffickers in Cassocks

But the USCCB and other agencies do far more than wait for Washington to give them money. They actively encourage and even help migrants bypass legal channels to enter the United States.

In short, those agencies participate in human trafficking.

“The Catholic ‘Underground Railroad’ of migrant safe houses that extend across Central America, through Mexico, and up to and into the U.S. is a well-oiled machine,” wrote Michelle Malkin (a Catholic). For example, the Franciscans operate one in the Mexican state of Tabasco on the southern Gulf coast. Catholic nuns manage another in the nearby state of Chiapas, near Guatemala’s border. The Scalabrinian Order runs a shelter in Tijuana, part of a network it established in 1999.

In Tapachula, near the border with Guatemala, the Jesuit Refugee Service plays an active role. The group “opens its churches and pastoral centers to provide shelter, monetary aid, voluntary aid and emergency assistance,” Malkin wrote. “Its team of lawyers, psychologists, social workers and Jesuit clergy spread from Tapachula to Comalapa (in Guatemala) and Mexico City.” Members also personally guided large caravans to the United States.

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Many safe houses receive supplies from the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration, which also provides legal and counseling services. Funding not only comes from federal grants to Catholic organizations but also through church collections. In 2019, Francis donated $500,000 from Peter’s Pence, which raises funds from parishioners every June, “to provide housing, food and basic necessities to the migrants,” reported Catholic News Agency.

In December, as part of a wider investigation into the role of NGOs in human smuggling, the Heritage Foundation revealed Catholic Charities’ pivotal position. By geofencing the agency’s facility in San Juan, Texas, the foundation discovered nearly 3,400 separate mobile phones linked to anonymous contacts in 433 of the nation’s 435 Congressional districts.

“Now we can prove what border security experts have long known — NGOs that support these radical policies are facilitating it,” the Heritage Foundation’s Mike Howell, a former oversight counsel for the Department of Homeland Security, said in a statement. “The NGOs are happy to step into the breach and form the final link in the drug cartels’ human smuggling operation, ensuring these individuals make it all around the country.”

It’s For the Children!

Among those individuals are children. Since 2016, the Unaccompanied Alien Children Program has received more prime grants than any other federal immigration program. UAC funding has increased in 12 of the past 15 fiscal years, reaching an all-time high of $2.709 billion in 2022. Of that amount, about $97 million went to Catholic agencies, “a conservative figure,” said Elizabeth Yore, former general counsel for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Yet with all that funding, those Catholic agencies appear to care little for the safety of those children.

“We know that children have been trafficked through the program,” said Tara Lee Rodas, who inspects government agencies. “Your trafficker in Guatemala, he has got to use the cartel to get his children across Mexico. But once he gets the children to the U.S. border, we take them. We care for them. We clothe them. We feed them. Then with your dollars, my dollars and the dollars of every person watching, we fly that product directly to the trafficker.”

Many sponsors also enter the country illegally. An investigation from Project Veritas found 44 children living at one address and another 25 at a separate address. One 16 year old admitted to being pimped by her so-called aunt.

Yore, a conservative Catholic, called Catholic Charities “probably the number one or two NGO that is handling the trafficking of children,” she said. “Sexual predators go where vulnerable children are. You can’t tell me that there aren’t hundreds, if not thousands, of sexual predators who are posing as sponsors for these vulnerable children.”

The Gay Pipeline to Latin America

If the USCCB is silent about child trafficking, it might have a reason.

In 2018, Church Militant reported the existence of a network sending homosexual seminarians from Colombia to the United States. That network started in the 1990s and existed through the early part of this century. At least six dioceses, all on the East Coast, were involved.

Not all of the seminarians were homosexual. Some were brought to the United States to be groomed.

“Former seminarians from the ‘gay pipeline,'” Catholic news site Church Militant reported, “have stated that members of clergy in U.S. dioceses promised that they could do anything to make sure that they — the seminarians — would be able to go anywhere, stating that nothing was impossible.”

That approach seems to define the Catholic stance toward immigration, a stance Yore believes is deadly.

“This is going to be a catastrophe for our health-care system, our criminal justice system, our educational system,” she said. “We’re not going to recognize our society in two years. The crime and the chaos in the schools is going to be unimaginable. We are going to be paying for this for decades, generations.”

But as long as the bishops and their bureaucrats get their pieces of silver, why should they care?


Joseph D’Hippolito has written commentaries for such outlets as the Jerusalem Post, the American Thinker and Front Page Magazine. He works as a free-lance writer.

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