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By Joe Schoffstall | Fox News | Published January 24, 2023 11:58am EST


Two left-wing nonprofits have combined to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-backed government contracts since President Biden took office, with a vast majority of the money going towards efforts to keep illegal immigrants in the United States, records reviewed by Fox News Digital shows. 

The Vera Institute of Justice, a New York-based group that views immigration enforcement agencies as a “threat” to civil liberties, has been the primary breadwinner in the past two years, collecting around $350 million from government contracts for immigration services. The Acacia Center for Justice, a newer nonprofit linked to the Vera Institute and another left-wing immigration group, has also pocketed tens of millions of dollars in recent federal contracts. 

The progressive groups have landed the contracts amid the escalating border crisis, which recently saw a quarter of a million migrant encounters at the southern border in December, a new high for the Biden-era as the crisis enters its third year. The Vera Institute received a $171 million Health and Human Services-funded contract last March to help unaccompanied minors avoid deportation, the records show. The contract has since paid out around $180 million with supplemental agreements as of December.


Left-wing groups have landed lucrative government contracts to help with the border crisis.
Left-wing groups have landed lucrative government contracts to help with the border crisis. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

The arrangement lasts until March of this year but can hit as high as $983 million if renewed until March 2027. If extended, it will be the largest federal contract the group has received for immigration-related services dating back to the mid-2000s by a wide margin.  Vera has secured other large government contracts since early 2021, including a $168 million contract in March 2021 for the same purpose of helping unaccompanied minors avoid deportation. During this time, the group also obtained smaller contracts ranging between $4 million and $12 million from other federal departments.

In addition to its immigration focus, the Vera Institute seeks to end mass incarceration by cutting down on the number of jails, prisons, and detention centers in the United States. The group has also backed defunding the police and has called border security a “threat” to civil liberties.

“Its name should be Vera Institute for Lawlessness, because it’s at war with the law and public safety: calling to defund police, legalize all drugs, and open the border to all comers,” Scott Walter, president of the conservative Capital Research Center, told Fox News Digital. “It’s amazing these enemies of the law get over 90% of their revenue from the government — more than some defense contractors can boast.

“A sane government would resist these foes of civilization, not fund them, and certainly not help them bring chaos to our poorest, most vulnerable communities,” Walter added.


The Vera Institute of Justice is contracted by the government to provide legal services to illegal immigrants.
The Vera Institute of Justice is contracted by the government to provide legal services to illegal immigrants. (Texas Department of Public Safety)

Taxpayer-backed government grants and contracts propel the Vera Institute’s operations. The most recent financial audit on its website shows that between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, $152 million of the group’s $191 million in revenue came from government sources. 

Meanwhile, the Acacia Center for Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit started from a partnership between the Vera Institute and Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR), has received several “legal services” contracts from the Department of Justice last September that netted the group around $41 million in payments, records show.

The Acacia Center appears to have launched to expand Vera’s work with illegal immigrants detained at the border. However, unlike Vera’s government contracts for unaccompanied minors, the Acacia Center’s contracts do not specify an age group for the legal services, and its partner organization has an adult defense program.

“The objective of the Acacia Center for Justice (“Acacia”) is to expand on Vera’s work over the past twenty years in providing legal support and representation to immigrants facing deportation through the development, coordination and management of national networks of legal services providers serving immigrants across the country,” its website states.

“Acacia’s goals are two-fold: to support immigrant legal services and defense networks to provide exceptional legal services to immigrants and to advocate for the expansion of these programs and the infrastructure critical to guaranteeing immigrants access to justice, fairness and freedom,” the site says. “Acacia will focus the collective power of both Vera and CAIR on delivering accountable, independent, zealous and person-centered legal services and representation to protect the rights of all immigrants at risk of deportation.”


In December, the number of migrant encounters at the southern border surpassed 250,000 – a new monthly high under the Biden administration.
In December, the number of migrant encounters at the southern border surpassed 250,000 – a new monthly high under the Biden administration. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Image)

The second group involved in the Acacia Center’s partnership, Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights, directs an adult defense program that provides information, support, and legal representation to illegal immigrants, according to its website. It also has a detained unaccompanied children’s program that works with minors at the Office of Refugee Resettlement juvenile immigration detention centers in Maryland and Virginia.

The Acacia Center launched last year and received the contracts less than two months after getting a July 2022 determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service, which stated the group’s effective date of tax exemption was Dec. 29, 2021, according to filings. The nonprofits landed the immigration contracts as the situation at the southern border worsened, cumulating into a record high encounters late last year.

In December, the number of migrant encounters at the southern border surpassed 250,000 – a new monthly high under the Biden administration – Customs and Border Protection confirmed to Fox News Digital last week. The figure came after two years of a historic and record-breaking migrant crisis that has overwhelmed communities and officials, caused tensions between cities deep in the U.S. interior over the bussing of migrants, and marked a significant political headache for the administration.

The Vera Institute of Justice and the Acacia Center for Justice did not return Fox News Digital’s requests for comment. 

Fox News Digital’s Adam Shaw contributed reporting.

Joe Schoffstall is a politics producer/reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to and on Twitter: @joeschoffstall


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