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.
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"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.
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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 areas of 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 foot baths 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."
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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.
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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.
Then she discovered that the neighboring town of St. Anthony had rejected a mosque on zoning grounds and was being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice at the behest of the Council on American Islamic Relations, an organization with known ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
"We have a very aggressive CAIR chapter in Minnesota," Anderson said.
The local Muslim community is also active in social media, with many closed groups on Facebook, and a few that are open, such as the Minnesota Muslim Community page. The group posts events, such as a Somali youth peace rally that was held late last year in Minneapolis, and also updates on proposed laws that are seen as discriminating against Muslims.
The lawsuits and threats of lawsuits loom over city councils whenever a mosque or Islamic school is proposed, and Anderson described the climate as one that can, at times, border on intimidation. Socially, the Somali community makes little effort to assimilate, she said.
"Their doctrine tells them not to befriend the infidel because of their frame of mind. It's described in Qutb's book 'Milestones,' which gives great insight into their view of the Jahiliyyah (or those in a state of ignorance of divine guidance)," Anderson said. "I want to respect their freedom of worship, but at the same time, because I've read the text and I've read their luminaries, Islam is Islam and, if you read Milestones, he says if you're not producing an Islamic society like the seventh century community that Muhammad created then you are apostate.
"So even though they may have more freedoms here at this time the text is still telling them to immigrate, to plant seeds of utopia and that is to create a global Islamic caliphate."
Anderson sees those seeds as the mosques, Islamic centers and schools that have popped up all over Minneapolis-St. Paul and even in outlying areas such as St. Cloud and Bloomington. She looks at European cities that have slowly become majority Muslim and fears her city could be in for more changes as more Somalis pour in from the federal refugee program.
"I want to respect people to have their freedom to worship but once they gain numbers, the text directs them," Anderson said. "All we have to do is look to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan to see what Shariah law brings, and to me it is like the mirror, the exact opposite of the Judeo-Christian realm, but I'm fascinated by it because we say they're oppressed but that's what they say about us, that they have been given the role to set the world free of immorality and corruption.
"Just the way they treat their women we see as oppressive so it definitely is a clash of cultures, and that's why I feel compelled to educate people," she continued, "because I don't want my three daughters to have to deal with this. I understand modesty, but I'd rather lose my head than ever have to surrender to Shariah law."
Anderson said she was further perturbed when she found out that the faith-based organizations from the Catholic and Lutheran churches were getting paid by the federal government to provide their "charity" work for the Somalis.
World Relief Minnesota has been working recently with two other evangelical Christian groups – Transform Minnesota and Immigrant Hope – to host all-day training sessions for church volunteers, teaching them how to complete paperwork in anticipation of an amnesty declaration from President Obama.
Anderson says Marxist ideas are deeply embedded in some of the church-led charities.
Noted Christian socialist Jim Wallace, editor of Sojourner's magazine, spoke at a G92 Immigration Conference at Cedarville University in 2011 along with the director of Immigrant Hope.
"So it's really obvious that Marxist ideology has infiltrated some of our faith-based organizations, and they're here training church volunteers," Anderson said. "It's redistribution of our wealth on a global scale. We're still sending money there (to Africa), but it's being redistributed here as well, big time."
Another alarm bell went off for activists like Anderson earlier this year when Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges showed up for a meeting with Somali Muslims wearing a full hijab.
"It's getting really bad," Anderson said.
Bachmann said that while her state's experiment with creating a "Little Mogadishu" does not appear to be ending any time soon, she hopes the Somali community will learn to be more self-sufficient.
"Minnesota has been extremely generous in terms of housing, food stamps, education, in addition to a plethora of social welfare programs," she said. "People in Minnesota are extremely generous and welcoming. But I also think most people in this state believe that anyone, whether they're coming from Canada, Norway, or Somalia, most Minnesotans believe people should come into the country and learn to speak the English language and learn American history and the Constitution and our form of government and agree that they will not become a burden on the taxpayer and be able to provide for their families and all aspect of their lives."
"There can't be an expectation of this continuing government aid throughout their lives," Bachmann added.
She said that up until the early 1960s, when immigration laws changed, foreign nationals "had to prove they were healthy, that they had a bit of money in their pocket, that they would not be a burden to the taxpayer and that they had a sponsor, that they would follow American law, that they would learn the English language at their own expense and they had to be willing to abide by American values. Now is very different."
Bachmann said too many foreign nationals today enter the U.S. from any number of countries and demand that the U.S. change and adapt itself to their cultures.
"That is wrong," she said. "The U.S. takes in over 1 million foreign nationals a year. Every other country of the world added together would bring in fewer immigrants than the U.S. alone does in one year's time. We are extremely generous in adding to our numbers, and that's just through legal immigration. Anywhere from 1 to 2 million more come from illegal immigration."
Saad Samatar, a Somali who serves as chair of the Horn Development Center, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit, told Mint Press recently that the Somali community is still struggling to find stability.
“The family structure is broken down," he told the news site. "Single mothers are running the families, thus they can’t control the boys. [T]he father figure is missing in the equation of the Somali family.”
In recent years, there have been many changes — both socially and politically — in Somalia and in the U.S. It’s now a race for many young people to catch up with developments in both countries, fit into both systems, and simultaneously satisfy the needs of both countries.
“They are part of this country [the U.S.], but fighting in other countries,” Samatar told Mint Press. “For many of these teenagers, they are being indoctrinated and brainwashed by some of the extremist groups.”
The escalation of Somali refugees being resettled in the United States can be seen in the graph below.