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New Somalis arrive in Minneapolis in droves after 2008 dip; end up in homeless shelters

Posted by Ann Corcoran on November 2, 2014

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.

US State Department: We want them to stay where we have allocated money through a contractor for them. They want to be with their own people in Minnesota. Nevertheless, we will keep bringing them in! Photo: http://www.c-span.org/video/?309771-1/terrorists-refugee-programs

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]

 Read it all!

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.

One Response to “New Somalis arrive in Minneapolis in droves after 2008 dip; end up in homeless shelters”

  1. […] more Somalis are arriving in Minneapolis every day thanks to the US State Department and its […]

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