And, what do you know—refugee immigration documents are inaccurate for some.
(Previous posts on this case can be found here)
From AP at NECN.com (raise your hand if you’ve seen this story mentioned anywhere on the mainstream media!):
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — A federal trial involving more than a dozen defendants accused in a sex trafficking ring run by Somali gangs has faced a series of delays.
U.S. District Judge William J. Haynes again this week ordered jurors to return on Monday as defense attorneys argued that the defendants, many of whom are refugees from Somalia, were juveniles at the time the alleged crimes occurred.
The indictment said three gangs called the Somali Outlaws, the Somali Mafia and the Lady Outlaws were forcing teenage girls into prostitution and operated in St. Paul, Minnesota; Minneapolis; Columbus, Ohio; and Nashville.
After selecting a jury last month, the trial was delayed last week when prosecutors turned over thousands of documents and audio recordings from the investigation to defense attorneys on the eve of trial. Both defense attorneys and federal prosecutors have repeatedly declined to comment about the case.
Who exactly is my mama, and when exactly was I born?
Many, but not all the defendants, are described as refugees who came to the United States as young children. [What about the others, were they born here, or came illegally?—ed] Police have relied on immigration paperwork to determine their ages, but defense attorneys have argued in court that information in those documents are routinely incorrect due to cultural and language issues.*
One defendant, Abdirahman Abdirazak Hersi, has a date of birth listed in police records as Feb. 20, 1990, but his mother testified in court Wednesday that he had been born in Somalia on Dec. 1, 1991, and that her sister was incorrectly listed as his mother in immigration records.
His attorney has asked the judge to dismiss some of the charges against his client because he would have been a juvenile at the time of the offenses and he never had a juvenile status hearing that would determine whether he would face the charges as an adult.
* Or due to fraud! New readers may not know that the family reunification portion of the Refugee Resettlement Program was (maybe still is!) closed for years beginning in 2008 when the State Department discovered widespread fraud primarily from Somalia and East Africa. The “family” members turned out not to be related at all. Here is my original reporting. And, as of this writing (July 2011)—fewer refugees coming to the US due to security concerns—the program had not resumed.