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Route To Asylum By Some Somalis Raises Security Concerns

Your browser does not support this object. View the original here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wG3QJYJ5ozc

Video published October 1, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: When America's system of political asylum works correctly, people who have suffered under repressive regimes can find a safe haven in the U.S. to begin new lives. But when that same system is manipulated, some fear political asylum can be used by dangerous people to enter the U.S. legally.

— When America's system of political asylum works correctly, people who have suffered under repressive regimes can find a safe haven in the U.S. to begin new lives. But when that same system is manipulated, some fear political asylum can be used by dangerous people to enter the U.S. legally.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

THE AMERICAN SYSTEM OF POLITICAL ASYLUM WORKS CORRECTLY, PEOPLE WHO SUFFERED CAN FIND A SAFE HAVEN IN THE UNITED STATES TO BEGIN NEW LIVES. WHEN THE SAME SYSTEM IS MANIPULATED, SOME FEAR THE ASYLUM CAN BE USED BY DANGEROUS PEOPLE TO ENTER THE U.S. ILLEGALLY. WE HAVE OUR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER WITH INFORMATION ON WHAT SHE GATHERED ON THE PATH SOME HAVE TAKEN TO ASYLUM IN THE UNITED STATES FROM SOMALI. FIRST OF ALL, HOW LARGE IS THE SOMALI COMMUNITY IN SAN DIEGO?

BETWEEN 18 AND 20,000 SOMALIS IN SAN DIEGO. MANY CAME IN THE 1990s WITH THE INFLUX OF REFUGEES UNDER THE REFUGEE PROGRAM. THEY WERE ESCAPING CIVIL WAR. THAT IS STILL THE LONGEST RUNNING CIVIL WAR IN THE POST- COLONIAL ERA IN THE SOMALIA TIME. THERE WERE ARMED GANGS WHO WERE RULING ANARCHY. THEY FLEW HERE AND SETTLED INTO SAN DIEGO. THEY HAVE BEEN SOMEWHAT SUCCESSFUL. A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE PURCHASED BUSINESSES AND RAISING FAMILIES. THEY HAVE CHALLENGES. ASSIMILATION IS A CHALLENGE AND A HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT RATE.

PEOPLE WHO DON'T KNOW WHERE SOMALIS ARE FROM. WHERE IS THE COUNTRY LOCATED?

IT IS IN EAST AFRICA. IT IS IN THE HORN OF AFRICA AROUND THE SOUTHERN EAST TIP.

WELL, FEDERAL AGENTS KIND OF SHARED WITH YOU THEIR CONCERNS ABOUT SOME OF THE ASYLUM SEEKERS WHO HAVE COME TO THE UNITED STATES THROUGH THE PORTS OF ENTRY IN MEXICO. WHAT WERE THEY SAYING?

THE CONCERN STEMS FROM THE ROUTES AND THE COST. THEY SAY THAT MONEY SOMALIS TRAVEL TO KENYA WITH FAKE PASSPORTS AND THEY FLY TO CUBA. FROM CUBA, THEY TRAVEL BY BOAT OR PLANE TO CENTRAL AMERICA. FROM PANAMA, THEY ARE TAKEN BY TRUCK BY HUMAN SMUGGLERS UP TO GUATEMALA TO MEXICO WHERE THEY TURN THEMSELVES IN TO MEXICAN OFFICIALS. THEY TAKE THE PICTURE AND NAME WITHOUT VERIFYING THAT IS THEIR NAME AND THEY GIVE THEM WHAT IS CALLED AN EXPULSION DOCUMENT. THAT SAYS THEY ARE THERE LEGALLY, BUT FREE TO TRAVEL. THEY TRAVEL TO NORTHERN MEXICO AND WALK ACROSS THE BORDER.

WHAT ABOUT THE 9/11 COMMISSION THAT REQUIRES PEOPLE TO HAVE REAL IDENTIFICATION?

THAT IS A REAL RED FLAG FOR THE FEDERAL AGENTS. THE EXPULSION DOCUMENT SHOULD NOT SERVE AS A REAL IDENTIFICATION. THE MAJORITY OF THE ASYLUM CLAIMS ARE LEGAL. THEY DO HAVE AUTHENTIC IDENTIFICATION, BUT THERE ARE OTHER WHOSE DO --OTHERS WHO DO NOT. THOSE ARE THE ONES THEY ARE CONCERNED ABOUT. THE SECOND ISSUE IS THE COST OF THE ROUTE THAT THEY HAVE TAKEN TO MEXICO RUNS ANYWHERE FROM $30,000 UP TO $60,000. THEY ARE WONDERING WHERE THE FINANCING IS COMING FOR THESE TRIPS. THERE IS WORRY THAT THEY COULD BE FINANCED BY THE TERROR GROUP IN SOMALIA.

WHY IS THAT A CONCERN?

THAT GROUP IS RECRUITING PEOPLE FROM THE UNITED STATES AND HAS THREATENED TO ATTACK THE UNITED STATES. ALMOST TWO YEARS AGO WHEN PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA WAS ABOUT TO BE SWORN IN. THEY THREATENED TO DISRUPT THOSE CEREMONIES. THE U.S. GOVERNMENT IS WORRIED ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR GROUP. THEY HAVE LINKS TO al-QAEDA.

YOU TALKED TO LOCAL SOMALIS ABOUT RECRUITMENT?

I TALKED TO THEM ABOUT RECRUITMENT IN GENERAL BY THE TERROR GROUP. THEY SAID THEY HAVE NOT SEEN ANY EVIDENCE OF IT IN SAN DIEGO. WE DID HAVE A MAN WHO IS A NATIVE SAN DIEGAN. HE IS NOT SOMALI. HE IS BELIEVED TO BE MARRIED TO A SOMALI WOMAN. PROSECUTORS SAID HE IS IN SOMALIA FIGHTING ALONGSIDE THE TERROR GROUP.

WHAT EVIDENCE IS THERE THAT THE TERROR GROUP IS SUCCESSFULLY RECRUITING IN SAN DIEGO?

THERE IS A MAN WHO WAS INDICTED IN TEXAS. HIS NAME IS MUHAMMAD ALKANI. HE IS ACCUSED OF HAVING TIES TO al-QAEDA. HE HAS SMUGGLED A FEW PEOPLE FROM MEXICO TO THE UNITED STATES. THERE IS A MAN FROM PENNSYLVANIA WHO IS ACCUSED OF SMUGGLING FROM MEXICO INTO THE UNITED STATES.

I KNOW YOU WILL CONTINUE TO COVER THIS STORY. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

THANK YOU.

Comments

Avatar image for user 'jhero'

jhero | October 6, 2010 at 7:46 p.m. ― 3 years, 6 months ago

Even though I usaully do not agree with National Public Radio, this peice was unbelievably accurate. For those of you who think this is inaccurate, go talk to the Officers at the border and see what they say. I hope our congressmen read this and push for change, as anyone who deals with asylees can tell you, the system is broken.

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