Mass Fraud by African Refugees Halted Inflow After Ilhan Omar Came to U.S.
A refugee program that allowed foreign relatives of already-arrived foreign refugees to the United States was halted, altogether, more than a decade ago due to mass fraud among applicants. This week, Powerline blog’s David Steinberg suggested that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) entered the U.S. in the mid-1990s as a third-priority, known as P-3, refugee — that is, a refugee who is admitted to the country due to their ties to an already-resettled refugee.
Steinberg’s report also claims that Omar committed immigration fraud when she falsely entered the country as a member of the “Omar” family that had already resettled in the U.S.
In 2008, after thousands of foreign nationals had entered as P-3 refugees, the program was halted by the Obama administration due to mass fraud wherein the State Department, through DNA testing, was able to confirm family relations between the program’s applicants in less than 20 percent of cases.
Overall, about 87 percent of P-3 refugees’ family relation claims turned out to be fraudulent.
Charles Thaddeus Fillinger, a former federal immigration official, has detailed the enormous fraud that has occurred among P-3 refugees in his 30-page policy paper, calling the program “the greatest refugee fraud crisis in modern times.”
The overseas P-3 refugee “family reunification” program was suspended in 2008 following revelations of shocking fraud levels. The program restarted in 2012 with significant processing improvements, including a DNA-screening requirement. Left unresolved was the issue of thousands of fraudulent refugees who were admitted to the United States before the suspension. [Emphasis added]
Detailed by Obama’s State Department, the fraud in the P-3 program — specifically amongst Kenyans and Somalis — was so severe that the agency decided to DNA test about 500 P-3 Somali and Ethiopian refugees in Nairobi, Kenya. That sample, agency officials said, showed “high rates of fraud” and prompted DNA tests for about 3,000 P-3 refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia, Libera, and d’Ivoire.
These DNA tests were conducted between the applicants claiming to all be related and not between the applicants and their anchor relative already in the U.S.
“When you’re dealing with people coming from countries who sponsor terrorism, they could be committing immigration fraud in order to do us harm,” former federal immigration official Michael Cutler said of the national security implications of legally bringing foreign nationals to the U.S. from war-torn nations. (Neither Omar nor her family is suspected of terrorism.)
Fillinger writes that the State Department’s decision to suspend the entry of P-3 refugees in 2008 was driven by the fact that there was near 100 percent fraud in the program. About four years later, in 2012, the State Department restarted the program and now DNA testing among applicants is mandatory.
The potentially hundreds of thousands of P-3 refugees who were granted entry to the U.S. before the 2008 suspension of the program have not had to prove their original claims through more rigorous screening mechanisms, Fillinger notes, allowing them to continue accessing immigration benefits like getting green cards and eventually becoming U.S. citizens.
“The domestic P-3 system in 2018 is on a trajectory toward collapse, the same fate that befell the overseas program in 2008 after twenty years of dysfunction,” Fillinger writes. “It is not too late to arrest the steep decline.”
In total, at least 36,000 P-3 refugees — almost all from Africa — were admitted to the U.S. between 2003 and 2008, according to the State Department. The total of P-3 refugees who were admitted before 2003, though, remains unknown.
Today, nationals from Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Cuba, North Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Syria are all able to use the P-3 refugee program to come to the U.S.