Sunday, January 17, 2010

Somalis Seek Illegal "Back Door" Route to United States (and Portland, Maine)

Somalis Entering US Illegally.  Somalis are finding different ways to enter the United States.  Most have come here legally but the numbers of new "legal" arrivals have been reduced somewhat by the State Department after it found that a significant number had come in under false pretenses and with fake documentation associated with the family reunification program (thank goodness for DNA testing).  See "Fraud in the Refugee Family Reunification Program", U.S. Department of State, February 3, 2009.  Because of this reduction in "legal entry" the Somalis are attempting to cross over our borders illegally - (see "Desperate Somalis Seek Back-Door Route to US", ABC News, January 2, 2010).

Somalia As a "Failed State".  Who can blame them?  They have such a screwed up country.  Somalia has been classified by the international community as a failed state for over thirty years. There is no central government to speak of.  There are in fact three virtually separate independent states within the Somali border - Somalia, Somaliland, and Puntland.  Al Qaeda runs rampant and piracy abounds. Contrast that with free public education, job placement programs, medicare and medicaid, welfare, unemployment insurance, and other public welfare programs. 

But They Keep Coming.  I recently flew into Portland JetPort on a Friday night in January and found a number of Somalis gathered around the baggage carousel awaiting luggage.  They were holding white plastic bags with the words International Organization for Migration (IOM) printed in blue on the bags.  Having done refugee work in Iraq, Africa, and Haiti the bags were instantly recognizable to me.  Obviously the IOM (with assistance from Catholic Charities of Maine) is aiding the resettlement of Somalis into the United States - and more specifically to the Portland area.  It is estimated that 300 new immigrant children enter the Portland school system each year.

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