‘We’ve had young men wielding machetes in the streets’
Over the course of two decades, the federal government’s Refugee Resettlement Program has forcibly infused the Minneapolis-St. Paul area of Minnesota with a large dose of Somali culture, and the transition has not always been smooth.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., told WND that while many of the Somali transplants have been hard-working citizens, the experiment has been costly for her state. And too many Somalis remain dependent on public assistance.
“We have the largest population of Somalis in the United States, and Somalia is a failed state. It is based on piracy for ransom and fraud,” Bachmann said.
She said the war-torn east African country is in a state of desperation, with an economy that more closely resembles the stone-age than the information age.
“And so tens of thousands of Somalis have been lifted out of a completely different situation and dropped into Minnesota,” Bachmann said. “They have been brought here in many cases by Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services and made homes here, but the problems of radicalization have come to Minnesota as well.”
While any refugee entering a new country could be expected to need some temporary government aid, Bachmann said problems arise with the culture of dependency that many Somali families have settled into. There have been ongoing issues with radicalization as well, as young Somalis have been targeted by preachers of Islamic jihad, drawing them into foreign terrorist networks such as al-Shabab in Somalia and ISIS in Syria.
Two Somali men from Minneapolis-St. Paul have died recently fighting for ISIS, and several Somali women have reportedly left their homes in the area to join ISIS. The FBI says up to 25 Somalis have left to fight with Islamic militants in the Middle East since 2007.
“That’s not to say every Somali that has come into Minnesota is a bad person,” Bachmann said. “Our son has taught them at a charter school in the area and worked with many families that are fine people who want to see their children have a better life.”
Bachmann, along with local activists in the state, say the federal government should not resettle refugees into communities without full disclosure of the costs to taxpayers. She believes the feds should also receive permission from elected leaders before dropping refugees into communities.
“I do believe localities and states should have a say in whether refugees come to their community. There was no opportunity to weigh in. When people come from destabilization, the destabilization tends to come in with them,” Bachmann told WND.
“We’ve seen those problems before in Minnesota, we’ve had young men wielding machetes in the streets, we’ve had a number of demands for footpaths at community colleges and demands that food be changed at various public schools to be in accord with Islamic tradition. There’s just a real concern that the way of living of Somalia is being imposed on Minnesota as opposed to them adapting to the American way of life.”
The resettlement program gets its authority from the Refugee Act of 1980, sponsored by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and former Sen. Joe Biden, and is overseen by the U.S. Department of State. The act allows the refugees to become U.S. citizens within five years. Once here, the refugees are allowed to bring in extended family members through the State Department’s Family Reunification program.
The federal government chose Minnesota, along with Maine, Ohio and a few other states, as hotspots for Somali refugees fleeing civil war in their homeland following the fall of the Soviet-backed Somali regime in 1992.
But 22 years later, the civil war still rages in Somalia. And the Somali refugees keep coming to Minnesota, at an average rate of about 2,000 a year. The federal government chooses places like Minnesota and Maine because of their generous social-welfare programs and strong network of Christian charities ready to help with everything from providing translators to lining up housing, education and Medicaid – all the things that are needed to begin a new life in a new country.
The charities – Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities and World Relief Minnesota – work with money largely provided by federal government grants.
Debra Anderson, a working mother employed in the health-care industry in Minneapolis, said she became concerned two years ago after she bought her house in the northeast quadrant of the city and found out a second mosque was proposed nearby.
“I basically live and work in the heart of the beast, and shortly after I moved in there was a proposal for another mosque in my neighborhood,” said Anderson, who is a member of American Congress for Truth. “There are parts of southern Minneapolis that look like Somalia. We have one district in south Minneapolis that was estimated to be 40 percent east African, and they have a pretty strong political hold here.”
She’d heard that Islam was a “religion of peace” but then also heard that many adherents believed in violent jihad.
Rather than pick one side or the other, she said she got a copy of the Quran and started reading. She also started reading the writings of Islamic scholars such as the late Muslim Brotherhood leader Sayyid Qutb, author of “Milestones” and other books before he was executed in 1966 for plotting the overthrow of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser.
“What I found was jaw-dropping,” she said of the Muslim teachings.