Somalis, San Diego and the Southern border

Before reading further, please have a look at this map of California.  Notice how close San Diego and El Cajon are to the southern border—convenient huh!

Within just a couple of days, I’ve come across four articles about San Diego and refugees—at least one was sent to me by The Opinionator.   We’ve previously written dozens of posts mentioning San Diego, here, and its suburb El Cajon, but now comes word that this area in California is the largest resettlement site in the US.

From an article at San Diego 10 News that is primarily focused on Iraqi refugees going to El Cajon we learn:

EL CAJON, Calif. — The U.S. State Department reports San Diego County has become the nation’s largest resettlement site for refugees from around the world.


U.S. State Department reports showed Chaldeans (Christians from Iraq mostly) have become the fastest-growing refugee community in San Diego, with Burmese refugees (Christians and Muslims included) making up the second-largest group, followed by Somalis (Muslims).   [Religions added to this quote by RRW]

San Diego a Somali anchor community

So if Somalis are the third largest group in San Diego, and this article at Bartamaha, a Somali publication, says there are 20,000 Somalis in San Diego County, then there are one heck of a lot of Iraqis and Burmese.  So, what I’m getting to is that San Diego is a perfect place to hide.

20,000 and some are having trouble integrating!

And for thousands, the exodus [from Africa] led them to San Diego through the refugee resettlement program. The city has nearly 20,000 Somalis. They have bought houses, businesses and are raising families. Many live in City Heights where women wear burkas, markets sell halal meat and men walk to prayers at neighborhood mosques.

Some Somalis such as Ali Artan say assimilation has not come easily.

“It will be hard and a long road that they can integrate with the mainstream,” he said.

Many of these immigrants came from rural areas and do not speak English.

Unemployment at 40-50% (no wonder California is in a deep fiscal hole)

Mohamoud says unemployment within San Diego’s Somali community is between 40 and 50 percent.

“Many of them are just settling for whatever jobs they could get, part-time, odd jobs, you tend to see some customer service at hotels…maybe some janitorial, housekeeping, security guards,” Mohamoud said.

Even with the bad economy, Somalis keep coming to the anchor community they’ve established in San Diego. In the past two years, the number of Somalis immigrating to the U.S. through the political asylum process has increased. And some of them are taking a circuitous path that’s raising red flags within the intelligence community.

So what is that all about?  Red flags within the intelligence community?

We know something about San Diego red flags because we told you a year ago this month (here) that Somali former refugee youths leaving the country to go to Somalia for terrorist training have left through Southern California.

Are San Diego Somalis going to Africa? This article says not yet anyway.  Maybe not those living there, but their friends arriving from points east can disappear into the large Somali community before making their way south.

The bigger question:  Who is coming in?

Amita Sharma the same reporter who wrote the above linked article, on the day before wrote this for KPBS News:

SAN DIEGO — Each week, five to 10 East Africans arrive at the U.S. ports of entry in San Diego from Mexico. Many are Somali. They are often well-dressed, young men fluent in English. They ask for political asylum from war-torn Somalia. Federal agents in San Diego spoke about these cases to KPBS on condition of anonymity. They say a majority of these claims are legitimate. But they say there are strong indications that others are not.

As one agent told KPBS, “We are responsible for the security and safety of the people of the United States and we really don’t know who is coming.”

Federal investigators say Somalis are entering with inadequate identification at a time when the Al-Qaeda-linked Somali Islamist group al-Shabab has threatened to attack the United States. And they say the Somalis are taking a suspicious route.

Be sure to vist the article to see the details of the suspicious route.  And remember we told you this (here) previously when a Virginia man was indicted and ultimately released for helping (by his own admission!) 270 Somalis to enter the US illegally.  The case was dismissed when none of those he allegedly helped could be found (no evidence=no crime).

Who is paying for the well-dressed and fluent in English Somali men to cross the border and seek asylum?  Terrorists?  Families? NGO’s?  All three?

Federal agents say the cost of the entire journey can be $60,000.


Chris Harnisch is a former research analyst with the American Enterprise Institute. “Most Somalis aren’t earning $2 a day, so most Somalis, especially refugees are not going to have the money to do this,” Harnisch said.

Harnisch believes these Somalis could be funded by al-Shabab.

But there could be other reasons. He’s the former director of policy and planning for Customs and Border Protection. He says the Somalis’ journey might be financed by relatives or non-governmental organizations.

Be sure to read the entire article and pay special attention to the broken asylum system discussion.

But a federal agent tells KPBS “What people here should realize is how broken our political asylum system is. People have gotten through who pose a terrorism risk.”

No surprise here:  Immigration attorney defends the system

Writing at the pro-Open Borders Immigration Daily, asylum attorney Jason Dzubow asks why would a terrorist subject himself to the asylum system.

I have represented many Africans who have traveled to the U.S. in a similar fashion. The route often takes them through different African countries, then to South America, Central America, Mexico, and the United States. They use one or more false passports and meet several different smugglers along the way. The trip is circuitous and strange, and it is not clear why people pass through so many different countries (my guess is that the smugglers can get more money if they make the journey longer).


Nevertheless, people are crossing our Southern border and applying for asylum, and we do not know much about them. This certainly does present a security threat, but it must be viewed in context–Many more people cross the border, never claim asylum, and live here illegally. Given that asylum seekers undergo a background check (albeit imperfect) and government interviews (also imperfect), it seems that any terrorist would be better off entering the U.S. and not seeking asylum. Why initiiate contact with government authorities if you plan to engage in criminal activity?

However, we learned in the KPBS report that almost no one is turned down in the asylum system.  Perhaps these well-dressed Somalis know that.  Maybe they aren’t carrying a suitcase nuke because their jihadist plans are long-term.  But answer this Mr. Dzukow, who is paying for their trip?   It hardly makes sense to pay $60,000 to get to America for a meatpacking job paying $8 an hour, does it?

Let’s have Congressional hearings to answer all these questions!

In January, if the Republicans regain the majority in the House and Senate, we must demand hearings on the flaws in the refugee and asylum system that may be jeopardizing American security.  If Democrats keep their majority you can forget any hearings from the likes of CALIFORNIA  Rep. Zoe Lofgren who thought it was a brilliant move to have comedian Stephen Colbert waste our taxpayer dollars and our time with silly and embarrassing comedic testimony.

Let’s get serious about investigating Somali comings and goings!   We can start with calling Mr. Dzukow to testify.