Buffalo, NY: “culture clash” blamed for Somali children being removed from their parents

This story will get your blood boiling on a whole lot of levels!  Basically Social Services in Buffalo has removed 6 Somali children from the home of their 28-year-old mother and an allegedly abusive father. 

The mother says she wishes she were back in Africa.

Somalian immigrant Malaika Sabtow raised five children in African refugee camps, surviving for 14 years without electricity, amid persistent drought and regular outbreaks of malaria and tuberculosis.

But none of those 14 years, she said, was as bad as the past five months in Buffalo.

That’s how long it has been since the Erie County Department of Social Services took all of her children —she now has six, including a nursing 2-month-old daughter — and placed them in a foster home for reasons Sabtow doesn’t understand.

Sabtow, 28, wishes she were back in Africa. 

Supporters of Sabtow claim the county was overzealous in taking away her children and are concerned she and her husband, Madhey A. Khamis, are being treated unfairly because they are new to the country and don’t speak English.

Social Services Commissioner Carol Dankert said she could not comment on why the children were removed or whether they would be returned.

Read on, there are lots of interesting details about the case.

Then towards the end, comes the ‘uh-oh’ part.  I’m wagering that the next time we read about this case, CAIR will have ridden into town and it will no longer be your basic child-abuse case but will have morphed into a Muslim discrimination case.

The children have been split among three foster homes — none of which is a Muslim family, said Omar, the imam (of the Islamic Cultural Association of Western New York). 

One of the boys, Mustaffa, 12, was pulled out of an Islamic boarding school and placed in School 19, even though his parents paid $3,600 in advance for the boy to attend the private school.  [Where do refugees living on welfare get money for private school?]

According to Omar, Mustaffa told his mother that the people he was living with would not allow him to practice Islam.

A daughter, Fatuma, 11, also has not been allowed to wear the traditional Muslim head scarf, Omar said.

And none of the children was able to participate in Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, he said.

This is the stealth jihad.  As this case develops I will bet you a buck that no social service agency (probably anywhere in NY) will dare to take Muslim kids (or a beaten woman either) out of an abusive home.   It is their culture afterall, even the title to the Buffalo News story tells us that.

Update:  According to Refugee Works website, here, there are three resettlement agencies bringing Somalis and other refugees to Buffalo.  They are the International Institute (USCRI affiliate, I presume), Catholic Charities (they do a lot of Somali resettlement across the country), and Journey’s End Refugee Services, Inc.

The Vietnamese resettlement: a reminder of refugee resettlement before it became an industry

I was thrilled to see this article in the Los Angeles Times the other day because although my experience following refugee issues is relatively brief—going on three years—I had heard how much better resettlement was carried out BEFORE the Refugee Act of 1980 set up a major bureaucracy that in my opinion is more interested in perpetuating itself  (its offices, its salaries, its federal and state agencies, its welfare programs) then in helping refugees become productive and happily-adjusted Americans.

A documentary film maker, Kenneth Nguyen,  is working on a project to show how real American charity worked —not the taxpayer extortion charity of the refugee industry of today.

Nguyen says his project is relevant today, but personally I think it’s only relevant to show us how it could be done again using the Vietnamese model.  That model is one church or other charitable group to one refugee family, not the mass unemployed living in slums resettlement of today!*  New reader: check out yesterday’s post, here, to see what I mean!

Nguyen said the documentary is especially relevant today, as the United States resettles thousands of refugees from conflicts in Iraq and other countries. [Nguyen it is totally different today!]

We learn about the experience of the Pham family in Pennsylvania:

During the holidays, Phuong Pham is reminded of a Vietnamese proverb: Whatever tree you eat from, remember the one who planted it.

More than 30 years ago, on the day Saigon fell to Communist forces, Pham and his family scrambled aboard a South Vietnam ship bound for the South China Sea. Pham, carrying only some photos and a small bag with clothes, thought he had lost everything.

But after arriving at a U.S. refugee center in Pennsylvania, Pham was matched with a nearby parish that became his family’s sponsors. Parishioners found the family an apartment, donated a car, helped Pham find a job.

Pham spent his first Christmas in America in the living room of the McGlynns, one of the families in the church. The McGlynns showered his children with toys; Pham had nothing to give in return.

Over the next three decades, the Phams became lifelong friends of their sponsors. They spent nearly every holiday together. “Without them, we would not be here today,” said Pham, 63, who settled in Hershey, Pa. “We appreciate so much what these people have done for us.”

The law then was set up so families were individually sponsored and those sponsors took care of the needs of the family until they were on their feet!

… the Ford administration passed the Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1975, which helped refugees resettle with churches and volunteer families. The sponsors provided food, clothing and shelter until the refugees became self-sufficient.

The Vietnamese were assigned to four “tent cities” set up on military bases, including Camp Pendleton. While there, they took vocational classes and waited for sponsors.

Pham, his wife, Dung, and his children, ages 5, 4, 2, and 1, were assigned to Ft. Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania, where they lived in barracks along with thousands of other refugees. “I had no idea what the future would hold,” said Pham, a former petty officer in the South Vietnam navy.

After 90 days, with the weather becoming unbearably chilly for the Vietnamese, Pham and his family were sponsored by the parish at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Hershey, about 100 miles from Philadelphia.

The truly charitable group took care of all the family’s needs and they became friends for life!

A group of about 20 parishioners volunteered to help the Phams. They held donation drives for clothes and furniture, signed a lease on a two-bedroom apartment and raised money to pay rent.


Committee members took turns taking the Phams to the supermarket, teaching them English, getting clothes for the children. They helped enroll the children in school. Someone eventually donated a station wagon.


Some members helped Pham find a job at the nearby medical center, and he worked nights at a supermarket. One year after arriving in Hershey, Pham told the sponsors he could pay his own rent.

“I didn’t want to rely on people helping us,” he said. “But they always asked us if we needed anything else.”


“The wonderful lives we are living is because we were able to stand on the shoulders of giants who were willing to open their doors and help out our community,” Nguyen said. The sponsors “just knew there was a group of people in need, and they opened up their lives and brought us in.”

That is how it should be done again—one charitable group to one family in true private charity.

I can hear the critics now, NO!  We can’t bring enough refugees if we do it that way.  Well,  maybe so, but the ones we bring will have a good life.   And, there is no way we can save all the millions of “refugees” in the world today anyway.   Really, what good is it to have angry refugees in many cities in America who wish to go home?

*Endnote:  The present resettlement model gives one the impression that the refugee industry leaders are following the Cloward-Piven strategy of sinking our form of government by overloading the welfare system, and hiding, while doing it, under the ‘presumption of good intentions.’