Sunday, January 3, 2010

Somalis via Mexico

There's no doubt that many more European, African and Middle Eastern illegals are entering the US via Mexico.  That the African to South American route is easier due to laxer immigration control is also a fact.  However, this is not cheap.  The example of this Somali taxi driver selling his taxi to finance his trip seems fishy.  Buying false ID and being smuggled in and out of Kenya, Dubai, Cuba, Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica. Nicaragua, Guatemala, and finally Mexico just dosen't add up on the sale of a taxi.  Nor does it seem probable he could have moved illegally through so many countries without being stopped.  His movement through Cuba seems especially suspicious, given the dictatorial control by the Castro brothers. 

So, where did the money come from?  And what was his true itinerary and purpose?

The route from African to South and Central American countries is also known as an infiltration route for Islamists.

Are US immigration judges so credulous as to believe such an improbable story?


Somalis seek ‘back-door’ route to U.S. With one refugee program closed, many try to enter via MexicoThe Associated Pressupdated 5:00 p.m. ET, Sat., Jan. 2, 2010

LANCASTER, Calif. - The asylum seeker from Somalia hung his head as an immigration judge grilled him about his treacherous journey from the Horn of Africa. By air, sea and land he finally made it to Mexico, and then a taxi delivered him into the arms of U.S. border agents at San Diego.

Islamic militants had killed his brother, Mohamed Ahmed Kheire testified, and majority clan members had beaten his sister. He had to flee Mogadishu to live.
The voice of the judge, beamed by videoconference from Seattle, crackled loudly over a speaker in the mostly empty courtroom near the detention yard in the desert north of Los Angeles. He wanted to know why Kheire had no family testimony to corroborate his asylum claim.

Kheire, 31, said he didn't have e-mail in detention, and didn't think to ask while writing to family on his perilous trek.
It seemed like the end of Kheire's dream as he waited for the judge's ruling. He clasped his hands, his plastic jail bracelet dangling from his wrist, and looked up at the ceiling, murmuring words of prayer.

Kheire is one of hundreds of desperate Somalis in the last two years to have staked everything on a wild asylum gamble by following immigration routes to the United States traditionally traveled by Latinos.

U.S. closes one door
With the suspension of a U.S. refugee program and stepped-up security in the Gulf of Aden and along Mediterranean smuggling routes, more overseas migrants from Somalia are pursuing asylum through what one expert calls the "back door."
"The U.S. has closed most of the doors for Somalis to come in through the refugee program so they've found alternative ways to get in," said Mark Hetfield, senior vice president for policy and programs at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. "This is their new route."

About 1,500 people from around the world showed up in U.S. airports and on the borders seeking asylum during the 2009 fiscal year, according to statistics from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Somalis were the biggest group to make the journey, with most arriving in San Diego. More than 240 Somalis arrived during that period — more than twice the number from the year before.

Like Kheire, they have been shuttled to immigration detention centers in California while legal advocates have scurried to find lawyers and translators to help them navigate the country's immigration courts.
Many end up defending themselves. Those who lose may remain temporarily. Somalis may be deported, but immigrant advocates say authorities often do not send them back immediately because of difficulties making the trip.

For many, it has become increasingly dangerous to stay in Somalia. The African nation has not had a functional government since 1991 when warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other, plunging the country into chaos.
Somali refugees say they are fleeing repression by armed militias defending majority clans and the Islamic militant group al-Shabab, which has been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States.

"There are stories about houses being blown up by rocket launchers that you don't hear coming out of other countries as a normal occurrence," said James Duff Lyall, an attorney for the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project, who has represented several Somali asylum seekers in Lancaster. "The consistently horrific stories are striking."

Would-be refugee tells his story