Barnett at CIS: Will there be any meaningful reform?

Don Barnett, an expert and longtime critical observer of the US refugee program, writing yesterday at the Center for Immigration Studies, wonders whether any of the so-called reviews of the program will improve conditions for refugees or for the communities in which they are placed.  Or (in my words) is it just one more federal boondoggle with no hope of reform?

A non-profit nation of hundreds of taxpayer funded 501(c)(3)s has grown up around refugee resettlement in the U.S. A recent government-sponsored study finds “U.S. resettlement communities are awash with ECBOs that exist in name only but provide little meaningful assistance.” (“Practitioner Lessons from Ethnic Community Self-Help Programs,” ISED Solutions, August 2009) Some of the ECBOs (Ethnic Community Based Organizations) apparently exist only to bring in grants and contracts for themselves.

But this will not be mentioned in the flurry of meetings, memoranda, and recommendations around an initiative to “help restore the capacity of the US Refugee Program to serve increased numbers of refugees with increasingly diverse needs, without overwhelming the resources of local receiving communities.” (The quote is from a memo to Scott Busby, Director for Human Rights for the national Security Council, from State Coordinators of Refugee Resettlement, August 26, 2009.)

The initiative, a review of refugee resettlement, involves the 10 refugee contractors such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB ), the departments of HHS, State, and Homeland Security, as well as the White House Domestic Policy Council (DPC), the National Security Council (NSC), and the OMB. The UNHCR is also making its recommendations. In recent years up to 95 percent of the refugees coming to the U.S. were referred by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or were the relatives of UN-picked refugees. Until the late 90s the U.S. picked the large majority of refugees for resettlement in the U.S.


The transformation of the original civic organization- and religion-based refugee resettlement program into a fraud-prone federal contracting business has given birth to a global refugee industry and set off wildly escalating expectations around the world about opportunities for coming to America, bringing in its train more legal and illegal immigration. With much of the program looking like ACORN globalized, its intrusion in cities around the U.S. is raising its profile to the point where it can no longer be ignored.

Read it all!

Manchester, NH: update on Mohammed vs. Idhow

I told you about this on-going conflict between two Somali Bantu factions in Manchester NH, here in January, in a diversity is strength alert.  They are still at it.  Here is the update on the ongoing rift between Mohammed and Idhow.  Mohammed claims Idhow’s “homework club” is really a madrassa.  Idhow says Mohammed is getting too cozy with those Somalis down in Boston who are putting ideas into his head.

From WBUR:

Mohammed says if he were in Somalia he would take more wives. He complains that some Somali Bantus continue the practice here in secret [We have heard this on several previous occasions—ed].  But he’s interested in following the rules: anything to fit it and help his kids become American.

These two men — Mohammed and Idhow — have known each other for years. They’re both Somali Bantus and both spent 15 years in the same refugee camp in Kenya. So it’s a little surprising to hear that Mohammed thinks Idhow’s program for kids promotes hatred toward Americans.

“I’m telling the people in Manchester to investigate this,” Mohammed says through an interpreter. “But they are not investigating this. I think the FBI has to investigate this.”

Essentially, Mohammed is accusing Idhow of running a “madrassa.” In Arabic, the word “madrassa” simply means a Muslim religious school, but often in this country the term scares up images of a training ground for terrorists. So for someone like Mohammed Osman Mohammed to use it to describe a program on U.S. soil — and in public property — it gets a lot of attention.

It’s all those dang Boston Somalis fault!

They both accuse the other of undercutting their role as a community leader. Idhow is disturbed by Mohammed’s association with Somalis from a dominant clan living in Boston. He says the claim that he’s running a madrassa must have come from those Boston-based Somalis.

“That was the only allegation they thought would create a tension between the Americans and the Bantus,” Idhow says.

Idhow insists this is typical of the “tricks” he says Somalis play on each other. But he says he doesn’t blame Mohammed. “It hurts him, too,” he says. “It hurts every single Somali Bantu in Manchester.”

Those who work with the Somali Bantus in Manchester worry how this dispute, and accusations of extremism, will affect their standing here.

There is already tension in Manchester over a refugee overload, this continued Somali squabbling can’t possibly improve that situation one bit.

St. Cloud update: What did the report really say?

I guess I better track down the report that the School District in St. Cloud, MN prepared after the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) turned them into the feds for supposed civil rights violations against Somalis.

Here is some of one news report I saw last night, this one from WCCO:

For the past two months, school leaders in St. Cloud have been trying to get to the bottom of some serious allegations.

Minnesota’s Council on American-Islamic Relations says, in the past year, Somali students were targeted by non-Somali students or teachers at St. Cloud Apollo High School on eight separate occasions.

When, the report was turned over to the U.S. Department of Education, the school district did its own investigation.

On top of the eight reports, it found 13 more that involved white students picking on Somali kids and the other way around.


One incident administrators found to be true involved non-Somali students offering bacon to Somali students, who, for religious reasons, do not eat pork.

WCCO reported that some of the charges could not be substantiated, but the bacon harassment is true they say.  They also reported that School Superintendent Jordahl is stepping down, but Jordahl says it has nothing to do with the Somali conflict. See my discussion last month about verbal attacks on Jordahl and a school board member by a local black community agitator.

Now, check out this short AP story on the same news and scratch your head with me about whether they were reporting on the same report!  The number of incidents even vary widely between both news accounts.

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) — The St. Cloud school district has confirmed some allegations that Somali students were harassed by its non-Somali students.

The St. Cloud Times reports the investigation began in March after a Muslim advocacy group complained of harassment and discrimination at high schools in St. Cloud and Owatonna.

The district investigated 14 incidents, including name-calling, vulgar language, derisive comments about Muslim traditions and obscene gestures. The report was released Wednesday.

One Somali student was the complaining student in 10 separate incidents. The school was able to confirm most of them.

However, the investigation couldn’t confirm a memorable allegation that four students had pork bacon shoved in their faces. Most Somalis adhere to Islam which prohibits the use of pork.

WCCO says the bacon incident happened while AP says it wasn’t confirmed!   Note that to AP’s credit they mention that it was one Somali student who complained in 10 separate incidents.  But, AP doesn’t tell us there were cases of harassment by Somalis against white students.

I’ll see if I can find the report.

Meanwhile, if you want to learn more about the St. Cloud brouhaha use our search function for ‘St. Cloud.’  We’ve written a lot on the tension there going all the way back to Judy’s post in May 2008 where Somali students harassed a handicapped student’s dog, here.