Normally we are critical of the US State Department for its open-door policy to large segments of the Muslim world, but it seems they are now holding up some questionable visa applications of Somalis who can’t prove who they are.
Perhaps they have learned a lesson.
Of course keep this in perspective and your enthusiasm in check—we admitted over 100,000 Somalis to the US over the last few decades and in 2008 we learned that the US State Department had admitted tens of thousands of Somalis to the US who had fraudulently claimed a family relationship to someone who got in ahead of them. Family reunification for Somalis was closed for years, but the fraudulent “family members” got to stay!
Not one peep in this latest news about the fraud that shut down family reunification for Somalis for YEARS!
And, before you read the latest news about how the State Department is holding up some visas for Somalis, much to the consternation of Rep. Keith Ellison and the two Senators from Minnesota who want to get more Somali voters, keep this in mind: We are bringing in Somalis at near record levels (almost as high as the Bush Administration!).
7,608 new Somali refugees were resettled in the US in FY2013, click here.
Hundreds of Somalis are struggling to get their families reunited in the United States.
Amina Awnur is in Willmar. Her husband is in limbo.
For four years, Awnur has been trying to get U.S. authorities to allow her husband to come to Minnesota from Kenya. He has repeatedly gone to the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi with documents, but officials tell him they need more. [The reporter should make it clear that family re-unification for Somalis, the so-called P-3 program, was only re-opened in 2013. So she may have applied four years ago, but applications like hers weren’t going anywhere.—ed]
“I am really frustrated and very tired, because it has taken so long,” she said through an interpreter. [What, no English after being in the US for over 8 years!—ed]
The 30-year-old Somali-born woman, who now is a U.S. citizen, is among hundreds of refugees whose family members are hung up in Africa, struggling to prove to the State Department that they are who they say they are.
Waiting sometimes for years to have their visas approved, they are children, parents, siblings and spouses displaced by the continuing upheaval in Somalia. Stuck in Kenya, they have been unable to provide satisfactory paperwork establishing their identity, according to immigration lawyers in the Twin Cities. [DNA testing is available for blood relatives, that should easily prove who they are.—ed]
“It’s a huge problem,” says Leslie Karam, whose firm recently filed a lawsuit against a State Department official in Nairobi on behalf of a Minnesota man who is trying to get his wife out of Kenya. “The U.S. consulate in Nairobi has indicated their administrative processing can take several months,” the lawsuit says. “It has been almost two years.”
Again, this reference (below) to 1,000 visas being given to Somalis only pertains to those applying for family reunification. We let in 7,608 Somalis in FY2013 who we sure hope were all able to prove who they are!
She [State Dept. Spokeswoman] said that Somalis are treated the same as applicants from other countries, and more than 1,000 visas were issued to Somalis in the 2013 federal fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30.
“At the same time, we must ensure that applicants do not pose a security risk to the United States and otherwise are eligible for a visa” she said in an e-mail. “Applicants sometimes require additional screening to determine whether they are eligible.”
Toward the end of the piece we learn a little about the star of the story—Amina Awnur. How much do you want to bet this is a case of immigration marriage fraud?
Awnur came to Minnesota in 2005 with her mother, three brothers and one sister. Two sisters were killed in the civil war.
She works as a meat cutter on the production line of a Jennie-O Turkey Store processing plant, and sends her husband money to help pay his $200-a-month rent in Nairobi. She became a U.S. citizen in 2011.
In 2008, she said, she flew to Kenya and married Hassan Noor, 31, whom she’d met in Kenya in 2002. She returned to Minnesota and applied for a visa for him in January 2009. Her application was approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in March 2010. [but, not by the State Department—ed]
There is probably a very good reason the State Department is holding up Noor’s visa!
An afterthought: This post is one of our most visited posts of all time and it explains how Catholics, Lutherans and Evangelicals brought the Somalis to Minnesota (and are still bringing them) as contractors to the US State Department. The initial big attraction was Minnesota’s generous welfare system (and meatpacker employers).