I didn’t mean to make this Somali Sunday but here are our two other posts just this morning (here and here) on the impact of Somalis arriving in extremely large numbers in the US right now as part of the Obama Administration’s increasing focus on Somali refugees (Syrian and Iraqi Muslims feature prominently too).
This is some really good reporting at the Minneapolis Star Tribune yesterday by reporter MILA KOUMPILOVA . Hat tip: ‘pungentpeppers’
As I began reading the news, I was expecting to see no information about why the Somali pipeline to America came to a grinding halt in 2008—the discovery that a large number (thousands) of Somalis had lied on their application to come to America to join family members who were found to be not related at all to the applicants.
I am happy to report it is all here.
The article also sheds light on how Somalis resettled in other cities are hightailing-it to Minneapolis to be with their own kind of people (something we would be vilified for should we admit we want to be with our own kind of people).
As they move too quickly to Minnesota they leave behind their financial support (welfare set-up) that comes through the original refugee resettlement contractor.
We won’t be able to highlight as much of this as we would like, because it is jam-packed with information, but here are a few nuggets that interested me. Be sure to read the whole article yourself!
Star Tribune (emphasis mine) setting the stage:
A week after the United States government resettled them in Connecticut this summer, Nur Ali and his wife, Mahado Mohamed, had decided: They were moving to Minnesota. [Lucky Connecticut!—ed]
Tales of the state’s large Somali community had intrigued them back in the Kenyan refugee camp where they had married and had five children. Now, a Somali man they met in Hartford told them all recent arrivals head to Minnesota, home of “Little Mogadishu.”
After a major dip in 2008, the yearly numbers of new Somali refugees in Minnesota have rebounded steadily. The number of Somalis resettled in the state has more than tripled in four years. As resettlements nationally have picked up, more Somalis are also arriving here after brief stints in other states — often trading early support from resettlement agencies for the company of more fellow Somalis.
“You tend to go somewhere you can connect,” said Mohamud Noor, the head of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota. “Before people even arrive from Africa, they know they are coming to Minnesota.”
But without the Twin Cities family ties of earlier arrivals, these newcomers often can’t lean as heavily on longer-term Somali residents. Mary’s Place, a Minneapolis homeless shelter, has become ground zero for families like Ali and Mohamed’s. Somali participation in the state’s public food assistance program doubled in the past five years. Meanwhile, the Minneapolis School District, its Somali student enrollment up 70 percent since 2011, launched eight classrooms with instruction in both English and Somali to help newcomers catch up. [So who pays for all this?—you do!—ed]
State Department discovers massive fraud in family reunification program for Somalis!
Ali and Mohamed are part of a new wave of Somali refugees. Until 2008, the state resettled only refugees reuniting with family here.
But that year, DNA tests showed only about 20 percent of applicants in a refugee family reunification program, most of them from Africa, were actually related to their stateside sponsors. The program was suspended, even as Somalis argued a broader definition of family was as much a factor as fraud. The number of new Somali arrivals plummeted, from a high of more than 3,200 in 2006 to 180 in 2009.
Meanwhile, more stringent background checks for refugees in 2010 snarled the application process. Larry Bartlett, the U.S. Refugee Admissions program director, says the streamlining of security checks since and the resumption of the family reunification program in 2012 led to the recent increase in Somali arrivals — a trend he expects to continue in the next few years.
Somalis move even though their benefits don’t follow!
When these refugees move too soon after arriving in a different state, they get cut off from resettlement agencies there responsible for finding homes and jobs for them. Noor, whose group tries to assist newcomers with navigating the transition, says the federal government needs to do more to discourage this early migration. At the U.S. State Department, Bartlett says staff members strive to honor refugees’ host city preference. Some refugees even sign a document affirming they are going to the city where they want to stay.
“The problem with moving quickly is that the benefits don’t always follow you,” Bartlett said. “We really try to impress that upon them.” [So, does the contractor still get its cut of each refugee’s allocation?—ed]
Who is responsible for the Somali mess in Minnesota besides the aforementioned US State Department? Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities, and World Relief Minnesota. See one of our top posts (from 2011) of all time here.
Minnesota readers should be sure to save this important and informative story.