American Community Survey gets numbers wrong on US Somali population

This is a story from the Mail (UK) last week about how segregation is declining between blacks and whites in America (true).  But, the article is written like this one about Rednecks the Mail published a few days ago that clearly ‘looks down its nose’ at Americans.

It begins:

Racial integration between black and white people in the U.S. is at its highest level for a century, new figures reveal.

Segregation among blacks and whites fell in roughly three-quarters of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas as the two racial groups spread more evenly between inner cities and suburbs.

Still, ethnic segregation in many parts of the U.S. persisted, particularly for Hispanics.

The research found that a new generation of upwardly mobile black families is moving to America’s fastest-growing cities, with a decline over the past decade in black-white segregation.


The data is among the Census Bureau’s most detailed yet for neighbourhoods and comes ahead of results from the official 2010 census which is released next spring.

The American Community Survey is sent to about one in 10 households each year. It includes questions on ancestry, national origin and many other traits that are no longer asked about in the census done every 10 years.

Only 85,700 Somalis in America is completely wrong

The Mail has published a sidebar about Somalis in America which demonstrates how profoundly wrong the methodology of the American Community Survey is.  Either they are deliberately not releasing the true numbers, they didn’t get their surveys distributed in Somali communities or people lied on the surveys.  Here is a portion of the sidebar:

Nearly one in three people with Somali ancestry in the U.S. now live in Minnesota, which has the largest concentration in the country, the study revealed.


The data released this week found about 25,000 of the 85,700 Somalis in the U.S. live in Minnesota. Ohio, Washington and California also had large populations of Somalis, but the survey data found no more than 10,500 of them in any state except Minnesota where the Somali population is growing.


In many communities the population has grown and prospered, with Somali-owned shops and mosques proliferating. Somali translators work in the schools, the children of refugees go on to college and community leaders become public figures.

But there have been worrying signs about the second generation, with reports out of Minnesota of Somali gangs running interstate prostitution rings and investigations of young men going to fight with al-Shabab, which seeks to establish an Islamic state in Somalia.

Ahmed Sahid, president of Somali Family Services of San Diego, said the local population there was swelling with a ‘second migration’ driven by Somalis leaving cold parts of the U.S.

The government estimates there are 5,000 Somalis in the San Diego area, but Sahid said estimates are often wrong, and he thought there were 15,000 to 20,000.

Sahid is correct and the American Community Survey is wrong.

In 2008, I laboriously poured over records at the Office of Refugee Resettlement and recorded these numbers of Somalis admitted to the US since 1983 (I subsequently updated this post for 2009 and 2010).  We admitted, through the refugee program alone, 93,687 in those 27 years—that is only through the refugee program not other legal immigration programs such as the diversity visa lottery, or non-refugee family reunification.  It doesn’t include those who got here illegally and are seeking asylum and it doesn’t include those coming across both our southern and northern borders and disappearing into Somali communities which, by the way, are seeking to segregate themselves.

Does the American Community Survey expect us to believe that since over 93,000 Somalis were admitted in nearly three decades that many left and that none had families, leaving us with 85,700 today?