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Congressman Bilbray To Call For Hearings On Asylum Process

Audio

Aired 10/1/10

Congressman Brian Bilbray says he’ll call for hearings on statements by federal agents, who say some people posing a terror threat are slipping into San Diego’s ports of entry from Mexico disguised as asylum seekers.

— San Diego County Congressman Brian Bilbray says he’ll call for hearings on statements by federal agents, who say some people posing a terror threat are slipping into San Diego’s ports of entry from Mexico disguised as asylum seekers.

Somalis Settling In San Diego, Challenges Remain

San Diego has one of the largest Somali communities in the nation. Many Somalis are immigrating to the U.S. from Mexico. Their circuitous path is raising concerns among intelligence officials at a time when the Somali terror group, al-Shabab, is recruiting from the U.S.

San Diego has one of the largest Somali communities in the nation. Many Somalis are immigrating to the U.S. from Mexico. Their circuitous path is raising concerns among intelligence officials at a time when the Somali terror group, al-Shabab, is recruiting from the U.S.

Bilbray’s call for hearings follows a KPBS report on concerns by federal agents. According to the agents, some East Africans asking for asylum at San Diego ports of entry from Mexico lack authentic identification.

The agents worry that the Somali terror group al-Shabab might be financing the expensive and circuitous journey by the asylum seekers. Many are traveling from Somalia -- through Kenya to Cuba and then on to Central America -- and cross into San Diego from Mexico.

Bilbray says lawmakers are obligated to respond to the agents’ concerns.

"This is an absolute example of the kind of things that the 9/11 commission said we have to stop. And this is the kind of thing that the American people have said we expect Washington to take care of," said Bilbray.

Al-Shabab has threatened to attack the United States and is actively recruiting Americans. Federal prosecutors say former San Diegan Jehad Mostafa is believed to be fighting with al-Shabab insurgents in Somalia.

“If something happens, you watch all of the media and all of the politicians will ask how could this happen and I think this is really the type of wake-up call we need to address,” Bilbray said.

Meanwhile, a report by the Bipartisan Policy Center says homegrown terrorism is the biggest threat to the United States.

Comments

Avatar for user 'nranson'

nranson | October 7, 2010 at 8:18 p.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

KPBS has behaved irresponsibly in its sensational (and seemingly endless) advertising of Amita Sharma's series. I was horrified by the repetition of fear-instilling headlines. I count on KPBS to supply news. Ms. Sharma's pieces seemed biased and ill-informed. Instead of explaining why asylees are coming in, frightened for their lives by the horrendous terrorist group Al-Shabab, she focused on inciting fear, suspicion and "blaming the victim." The asylum process is extremely rigorous and often punitive. But it does its job in protecting US citizens. While errors are always possible, they are most unlikely as one of Maureen Cavanaugh's guests stated last week. Your sensationalist reporting has now impacted a congressman and given him another immigrant group to direct citizens' anger and fear towards. This is an enormous disservice to the Somali community. Asylees are an extremely vulnerable and disenfranchised population. Don't you think they have suffered enough without KPBS's help? Both Ms. Sharma and Brian Bilbray are clearly unfamiliar with the asylum process. Of all the ways to gain access to the US, this is one of the most difficult.

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Avatar for user 'EmmaOnTheBay'

EmmaOnTheBay | October 8, 2010 at 11:32 p.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

Sharma clearly lacks even a basic understanding of the asylum process. Not to mention the idea that she would pull a story like this together using anonymous federal sources! Where was she when anonymous federal sources used the media as puppets to spew propaganda aimed to justify their war? I challenge Ms. Sharma to do her homework: interview an attorney who has defended an asylum seeker and then sit through an asylum hearing. I did just that and it changed me forever. I sat and watched as this young man from Somalia was brought into the courtroom with his hands and feet shackled. He was put on the stand and treated like a criminal--his first crime was witnessing the execution of his entire family by leaders of a majority tribe. His second crime was fleeing to the U.S. to seek safe refuge. He received asylum that day, but you have put him on trial again, Ms. Sharma.

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