Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB is continuing to hold HHS’s feet to the fire, regarding the way it denied grants to Catholic organizations.
When Cuba Gooding Jr. and Tom Cruise yelled “Show me the money” in the movie Jerry Maguire, it was funny. When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) cries “Show me the data,” it is serious.
“Show me the data” is an urgent request from USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services. MRS has long worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help refugees, migrating children, and people trafficked to the U.S. for labor and the sex trade. The U.S. Justice Department recently lauded MRS in a brief defending HHS, which is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for working with Catholics. Said the Justice Department, as reported in the Washington Post, “the bishops have been ‘resoundingly successful in increasing assistance to victims of trafficking.’”
Despite this, a recent anti-trafficking grant application from MRS to continue serving people caught in the 21st Century’s version of human slavery was denied. MRS asks why?
I have been informed that six organizations applied for anti-trafficking grants from HHS’s Office for Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Four scored so low they did not make the cutoff when evaluated by an independent review board. Two applicants scored well. Heartland Human Care Services scored highest and MRS came in second, very close to Heartland, even after losing points for not being willing to refer for contraceptives and abortions. Yet, after finagling by Sharon Parrott, one of three politically-appointed counselors to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, ORR awarded $4.5 million, spread across Heartland, which earned the award, and United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and Tapestri, groups that hadn’t made the grade according to the independent review board.
HHS denies any hanky-panky. Show me the data.
Ambassador Johnny Young, who now heads MRS after a stellar career in the U.S. diplomatic corps, asked for data. Young, an African-American, has seen plenty of racial discrimination. Meeting with HHS’s George Sheldon he noted that he recognized discrimination again – this time because of his Catholic faith. When Sheldon, Acting Assistant Secretary for HHS’s Administration for Children and Families, denied the deck was stacked, Young said, in effect, show me the data. No answer yet.
USCCB filed a Freedom of Information Act request to see how these decisions were made. Still no answer.