State Department: Possibly tens of thousands of Somalis in the US illegally

Update November 7th, 2010:  Comment period ending for new regulations for this program, here.

Update May 30th, 2010: Somali family reunited in Utah, program must be open, here.

Update November 20th: AP reporting the program may re-open soon, here.

Update April 13th, 2009: State Department working to get program up and running later this year, here.

Update Dec. 12th: Washington Post gets around to writing about the fraud, here.

US News and World Report publishes information also.

Update Nov. 29th: Big city paper finally catches up to this story here.

Update Nov. 26th: Are terrorists recruiting in US Somali communities?

Update Nov. 23rd: More facts from an insider here.

Update Nov. 20th: Columnist Diana West pulls the whole story together here.

Update Nov. 19th: St. Paul news story says refugees bought their way in for $10,000 a pop.

Update later on Nov. 18th: Now the State Department has come out with a slightly modified “fact sheet” which says all P-3 family reunification is suspended worldwide.

Background added Nov. 18th: Since so many new readers are coming to this post, you might also want to see the extent of the family reunification program as reported by the Migration Policy Inst. here.   Also, see my research on Somali refugee numbers here.

Be sure to read all the comments to this post from people who know what is going on!

Update Nov. 16th: Tennessee newspaper runs with this story, here.

Unbelievable!  Take note citizens of welcoming towns like Ft. Morgan and Greeley, CO,  or not so thrilled towns like Postville, IA, Shelbyville, TN, and Grand Island, NE, the US State Department has confirmed that tens of thousands of Somalis have entered the US illegally through the US Refugee Admissions (P-3 family reunification) Program, possibly for as long as 20 years.

We had reported in August that random DNA testing demonstrated that 80% of those seeking entry into the US from African countries (mostly Somalis) were not related to those they claimed as relatives.  In light of that shocking revelation, the program was temporarily suspended.   A fact sheet, published today by the State Department, fills us in further on details of this outrage.

95% of immigrants using this program are from Africa.  36,000 alone came in the years since 2003 and as high (or higher!) than 80% of those are most likely here illegally.   So much for all the volag administrators telling the folks in these towns being swamped by Somalis that their new neighbors have been thoroughly screened by Homeland Security!   How do you screen someone when you don’t even know who they are?

Rumor has it that many of these illegal aliens bought their way into the US by purchasing Affidavits of Relationship on the streets of Nairobi.  (see the fact sheet for more on AOR’s)

So what I would like to know now is,  are we going to prosecute (and deport) the tens of thousands who have come to the US illegally for the LAST 20 YEARS?   According to this fact sheet, the next step is up to the Department of Homeland Security (in the Obama administration).

Convenient huh, the State Department has known about this fraud for months but only reports the details now when it is too late for the Bush Administration to do anything about it.   Just pass this African hot potato to the next President—The One with African roots.

Here are selected portions of the State Department’s bombshell fact sheet:

Q: What is this program?
 
A: A “Priority Three,” or “P-3 ” designation grants access to the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) to individuals of certain nationalities who are claimed as a parent, spouse, or minor child by certain legal residents in the United States. Priority One and Two applicants are granted access to the program through a referral by UNHCR, a U.S. Embassy or qualified NGO, or special direct registration programs based on the individual’s vulnerability and/ refugee characteristics. Being granted access to the program is only the first step, however. DHS must determine that an applicant, regardless of priority, is a refugee under U.S. law and is otherwise admissible.

Access to the USRAP based on family ties has been available to various nationalities since the 1980s. In recent years, applications to the P-3 program have been overwhelmingly African – primarily Somalis, Ethiopians and Liberians – accounting for some 95% of the P-3 applications.

Q: Why did the US decide to conduct DNA testing of some nationality groups applying for resettlement in the US?
 
A: The Departments of State and Homeland Security jointly decided to test a sample of refugee cases due to reported fraud in the P-3 program, particularly in Kenya.
 
Q: What is the rate of fraud that has been discovered?
 
 
 
A. The rate of fraud discovered varies among nationalities and from country to country, and is difficult to establish definitively as many individuals refused to submit DNA samples. We were, however, only able to confirm all claimed biological relationships in fewer than 20% of cases (family units). The remainder contained at least one negative result (fraudulent relationship) or refused to be tested.
Q: What measures will be taken against the thousands of refugees who have come into the United States through the P-3 program in the last 20 years?
 
A: That is a question for the Department of Homeland Security.
Q: Why did you only conduct DNA testing in Africa?
 
 A: We began in Africa because African P-3s have accounted for more than 95% of P-3 refugee arrivals worldwide in recent years. In addition, we received frequent reports – which were correct, as it turned out – that there was widespread fraud in the program there.
Q: How many relatives of refugees or asylees have come from Africa to the US via the P-3 program in recent years?
 
A. Since October 1, 2003, some 36,000 people have arrived from Africa through the P-3 program.
Q: How many P-3s were admitted to the United States, from elsewhere in the world, in recent years?
A:   Since October 1, 2003, some 400 people have arrived from other parts of the world through the P-3 program.

112 thoughts on “State Department: Possibly tens of thousands of Somalis in the US illegally

  1. RE: last comment from MARS, previous anon comment:

    There are now up to 400 VOLAG affiliates, many of them run and organized as exclusive ethnic clubs, which of course do whatever they can to bring in more co-ethnics.

    I was told by a Catholic Charities affiliate director – and it fits in perfectly with all the patterns I have observed for years in this business – that “relatives” come in to fill out and file the AOR at the VOLAG affiliate.

    The affiliate imputes this time spent by the relative at the VOLAG to “volunteer time”. “Volunteer time” is then given a value at say $10.00 an hour. That dollar value is then submitted to the Federal ORR Match Grant Program and the VOLAg gets money from the Feds on a dollar per dollar basis. Actually they get more than one dollar from the feds for each dollar they submit. I am not sure what the ratio is – it goes up regularly, but lets say it is is is 1.5 dollars now for each dollar submitted.

    In other words a refugee spends 4 hours filing a petition for a (likely) false relative to come over.
    The VOLAG submits a bill to the feds for $60.00. multiply this by 10’s of thousands and you see it is a real self-sustaining racket, mutually beneficial to many parties.

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  2. While somali centers may have assisted anchors in preparing (i.e. fabricating) their AORS, it’s important to note that all AORS must be completed and submitted by a volag. Vetting an AOR could take days, since each entry is supposed to be gone over with the anchor and the volag representative. I am sure each local volag affiliate has their own method and procedure, but I have sat with enough head-spinning anchors to know a scam. VOLAGS are the only entities allowed to complete and submit AORS.

    No somali center is funded to provide this service, nor are they in any way authorized to do so. That they do assist anchors in completing their family tree (now why wouldn’t someone know their own family?) is undoubtable in many cases. I have no idea if they charge clients for this “service” but I would hardly be shocked to learn that they do.

    They usually operate under other grants, which they often ignore and do what they like with the funds. Usually, these are state or city funds, rarely federal, with various degrees of oversight.

    And it’s not actually the case that most of the anchors are men, it’s simply that men are usually speaking for their female relatives.

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  3. I received the following in a private e-mail today:

    In response to the revelation from the US State Department, that tens of thousands of Somalis are in the US illegally, I must speak up. I am sorry I must speak anonymously. Unfortunately, the intimidation factor is keeping most of us who know what is happening silent. Having worked with refugees for many years, I have firsthand knowledge of the systematic abuse, fraud and corruption of our legal “humanitarian” immigration system by Somalis.

    In my experience, the Somali Centers have figured out an efficient way of ‘proving’ eligibility for P3 (family reunification) status. They have the forms and procedures worked out and submit one application after another. The process moves fast.

    The so-called “anchors” in the US are mostly men. Exposure of wrongdoing on part of these “anchors” is virtually impossible. It threatens the very heart of the Somali Center industry. You need to know that filing immigration papers is the main industry of the Somali Centers. Other projects are primarily for decoration and PR.

    Those other projects, funded through grants no less, were supposedly for addressing health issues, child care, or family violence. These grants are often not being used for the stated purposes.

    One of the saddest consequences of this system is that deserving Christian Sudanese, having no organized ‘community center’ for their people in America, often must wait years to reunite with their families. They simply haven’t the structure in place to grease the applications through the legal system as the Somalis do.

    A shameful, systematic pro-Somali, anti-Sudanese injustice has occurred and it must be exposed.

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  4. I think the State Dept, aside from their lame attempts to limit further illegal immigration, needs to also step up to the (their own) bat and take a second look at the anchors that enabled the huge influx of Somalis into the US. Under the law, if it’s proven that the family relationships were fraudulent, they are subject to criminal prosecution and possible deportation (although, to where?). The figures given in their latest statement, although high in numbers, do not reflect the number of Somalis admitted since 93, most of whom are likely ” illegal”, and that number would probably double at least. Somalis are still eligible under P-3 for this next fiscal year (despite the temporary hold on the program).

    At present, the DNA screening is only for the applicant groups (most of whom have a non-related member attached). It does not include the anchor.

    I would encourage an exploration of DNA screening for all present pending anchors as well as previous anchors against refugees admitted as immediate family members (at their expense). Should this (unlikely) happen, I believe a majority of the present Somali “refugee” population would find themselves in legal jeapordy and subject to removal.

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  5. Ciccio, the post on somali “documents” is most interesting. The US stopped accepting any document from Somalia at least a decade ago as proof of anything (beyond the ability to purchase). The document markets in Nairobi (as well as everywhere else, it seems) is notorious.

    One long standing trick was for Somali refugees admitted to the US to travel to Canada, sell their US documents to others, and claim asylum in Canada. In the mid 90’s, their chances of getting Canadian asylum were good. Purchasers of their old refugee documents (usually persons already admitted as refugees to Canada) would then enter the US under those bought identities (keeping their Canadian immigration documents). These folks then collected public benefits both in the US and Canada, thus abusing two countries at once! No wonder they couldn’t work handling pork, since their hands were already pretty greasy with other stuff.

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  6. RE: Fraud in Somali refugee program, this from 2003 CIS.org report
    http://www.cis.org/articles/2003/back1303.html
    Spend enough time talking to people in the refugee resettlement business and you will hear the story, by all accounts true, about a surprise encounter the Kenyan ambassador to the United States had one day in Washington, D.C. While making their way through a D.C. airport, the ambassador and his nephew spotted a group of students from the nephew’s elite school in Nairobi. It turned out the privileged youths had managed to pass themselves off as “Somali refugees” and were on their way to new homes and a new life in Minnesota.

    In January 2002, the United Nations announced that about 70 people were involved in a long-running bribery and extortion scheme involving the selection of refugees bound for western countries. Three staff members at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the main UN organization charged with protecting refugees around the world, were among the ringleaders.

    or this from a cis.org report in 2006
    http://www.cis.org/articles/2006/back1006.html
    Expectations of a generous reception in the West contributed to the refugee flows of the 1980s and 1990s exert a strong “pull” factor in the decision to seek asylum in the West today. Discussing the attractions of the West, the “New Era” study notes:

    This magnet effect or pull factor forms an increasingly pervasive worry for host countries and sometimes for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in thinking about resettlement initiatives. Those parties also worry that providing a resettlement option [i.e. to the West] will interfere with pursuit of other durable solutions — local integration or voluntary repatriation. …

    The temptation to fraud is great in refugee programs, because resettlement often represents such a highly valued solution for persons in desperate situations. In today’s conditions, the fraud problem has probably worsened, owing to modern communications and the growth of organized crime or other enterprises trying to make money from facilitating a person’s inclusion in a resettlement program.

    The United States now has State Department personnel or federal contractors in 40 different locations considering 60 different nationalities for the refugee program. In recent years, the main refugee sending-regions have been Africa (Somalia, Liberia, Sudan, Ethiopia), at nearly half of overall arrivals, followed by the former USSR and East Asia (Laos, Vietnam, Burma).

    The “New Era” study, one of Ms. Ryan’s initiatives, makes no apologies for the self-interest that drives the refugee contractors and their affiliates, and states that the contractors should not be expected to “shy away from supporting refugee groups to which they have ties. Our democratic system makes such advocacy legitimate, even on the part of persons or entities affiliated with organizations that have contractual ties with a government program.”

    Anticipating the obvious conflict-of-interest questions that arise when the contractors who set and implement government policy are the prime beneficiaries of those very policies, the study notes: “Given that the new era may require a dozen or more decisions each year on new resettlement initiatives, more occasions may arise for critics to charge improper influence. Some recent legislative proposals meant to give NGO’s wider authority to help set admissions priorities through refugee response teams perhaps composed exclusively of NGO personnel, are freighted with long-term peril of this sort. Such proposals might succeed in getting admissions numbers up but at the likely cost of feeding a backlash against what critics will see as interest-group distortion.” Indeed.

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  7. As someone who worked in the refugee resettlement field for many years, I can say that the fraud in the Somali P-3 program was an ongoing and noxious problem. In fact, the program was closed to Somali P-3 applications in the late 90’s due to overwhelming fraud. The Dept. of State was well aware of it, and made the usual cautions, but the volags were encouraged “not to judge” and to be “prudent” about reporting any fraud they witnessed or suspected (many times it was blatantly obvious). In fact, volags pretty much turned a blind eye, despite the fact that, on the local resettlement level, fraudulent cases (of which MOST somalis were) became problematic since the anchor “father” was in fact not related at all and would usually abandon any responsibility for participating in the resettlement of the new refugee family. Refugees arriving to join a spouse or a parent would suddenly appear at the local public housing office declaring themselves ” homeless” and impacting public shelters. It often turned out that this had been a previously arranged “relationship” for purely financial gain on the part of the “anchor”.

    Among other warnings on the affidavit of relationship that sponsoring relatives signed under oath was this:

    “WARNING: The U.S. Government investigates claimed relationships and verifies the validity of documents. All of your previous government records may be checked. Criminal prosecutions may be sought when family relationships are falsified to obtain immigration benefits.”

    To my knowledge, only a very small number (like single digit) of cases were ever prosecuted.

    Somalis have been entering the US as refugees since the early 90’s and, looking back, I could say with certainty that the figure of 80% being based on fraudulent claims of family relationship is conservative.

    The recent (but ridiculously late) State Dept release on this problem completely soft-pedalled the Somali involvement. The fraud among this population is/was widespread, and was in fact an industry, involving not only the US anchors and overseas refugee applicants, but overseas processing entities in charge of registering and seeing refugees through the process. There were multitudes of in-house corruption scandals, where local overseas staff were simply replaced with other equally corrupt staff. I am pretty sure that people made small fortunes.

    In terms of “illegal”…. the refugees were technically “legally admitted” , however under false claims , thus placing their legality into major question.

    There are always circumstances where even I would agree that falsifying a claim could be justified (i.e. the Holocaust) and I can understand the few families who did it out of real desparation. However, I truly believe that the fraud in this program supercedes the humanitarian element and , as I said , is simply an ” industry” .

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  8. Refugee prints and a DNA sample at the state level might go a long ways in reducing migration to a certain state.Those who committed fraud to be here are a drain on the State and local budget.
    Missouri will no longer even communicate with foreign university applicants unless they prove they are legally allowed to be here.In Kansas the Legislature is aware of this,and considering adding to the restrictions so as not to be an “oasis” for anyone not entitled to be here.Seems the individual states could piece together a few laws to keep from financing all the unfunded mandates the Fed keeps handing us.DC could care less about school districts and counties going broke.
    It’s your local tax money,and nobody really knows who is walking in the door of your new clinic the County had to build.

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