Claiming strangers as relatives for $10,000 a head

The belated story of the State Department’s (and Homeland Security’s?) decision to suspend the P-3 family reunification program is now seeping into the print media.   We told you the other day about the Shelbyville Times Gazette article and now here is one from St. Paul, MN.   Minneapolis-St. Paul is the Somali capital of America.

It begins with a sob story about a Somali woman who last saw her mother in 1991 (when she was 3 years old) and has recently learned she is alive.   So naturally she wants to bring long lost Mom to America.  Things were moving along in the process when the big bad government decided to do a little DNA testing on prospective new Americans coming from this particular region of Africa.  What did they find?  Rampant fraud!  Yes, can you believe it!  Now ‘Mom’ and ‘daughter’ are in limbo.

A recent decision by the U.S. State Department may keep Hassan and her mother waiting for the foreseeable future.

Hassan’s mother would be eligible to come into the country under a P3 visa, part of a family-reunification program. Since the late 1970s, when it was created to help Vietnamese refugees bring family members to the United States, the P3 visa has reconnected thousands of families. The program allows an “anchor relative”—a family member already legally living in the United States—to apply to have nuclear family members join them, with the hope of maintaining bonds between parents and children, brothers and sisters.

Since 2003, the main beneficiaries of the P3 visa have been Africans, 35,000 of whom have gained entrance with the visa. Not all of them, it turns out, were legal. Last spring, a State Department investigation discovered widespread fraud within the program: People were claiming strangers as relatives for up to $10,000 a head.

In response, the State Department cracked down, adding a DNA test requirement to prove that family members are related.

DNA tests!   Apparently Catholic Charities would like to see DNA testing dispensed with, afterall, the enlightened position of the culturally aware is to go with the definition of family found in whatever part of the world the the refugee is coming from—just keep the refugee spigot open! 

No refugees means no AORs (Affidavits of Relationship) to process which means no money coming in from the taxpayer to Catholic Charities bureaucracy.

For resettlement organizations like Catholic Charities, the DNA test requirement has created a whole new set of problems. For one, there is a cultural difference to overcome: In many African countries, the notion of family is more elastic, and many refugees may be caring for children orphaned by war.

Did you ever wonder where these impoverished Somalis were getting the $10,000?   Maybe now we know why they need those oil tankers!

6 thoughts on “Claiming strangers as relatives for $10,000 a head

  1. There may be a place for explaining an extended family member under special circumstances in the P3 application, but most filers not being able to be bothered or simply not knowing does not explain the huge rate (80%+) of people who were found not to be DNA related as they had claimed. And this rate does not even include those who opted out of the DNA test. How much higher would the rate of non-relatedness have been if everyone was tested?


  2. additionally, in the AOR (the P3 application is NOT a visa, but an application to the US refugee program) there is a place for explaining an extended family member under special circumstances and those members can be given consideration. That most filers cannot be bothered (or simply don’t know) does not excuse the false claim of the applicants being immediate family.


  3. well, first of all, the good news for Ms Hassan as that as soon as she turns 21, (if she hasn’t already) and assuming she bothered to become a US citizen, she can petition for her mom though normal BCIS protocol as the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, like filing an I-130. There is no waiting period for this category of immigrant. Of course, unlike refugee applications, an I-130 requires that the petitioner take full financial responsiblity for their immediate relative and precludes them from accessing any public assistance. While it’s wonderful that Ms. Hassan has “discovered” her mother’s existence, the refugee program should not be used simply for family reunification, since there are clearly other means available, and a means that does not contribute to the use of public funds. Refugee funds should be limited to those who are truly refugees and who do not meet other immigrating criteria.


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