Somalia: Vetting is Not a Game

The Conservative Review recently reported that the United States has admitted even more refugees from Somalia than it has from Syria: 3,014 for FY17 and 8,000-10,000 per year for the last two decades. According to, Somali refugee resettlement is up 250 percent under the Obama administration, totaling almost 100,000 Somali refugees since 9/11.

The unrestrained admission of Somali refugees is part of a disturbing trend in U.S. immigration policy: prioritizing the resettlement of refugees ahead of the security interests of the American public. As FAIR has previously noted, successful vetting of any aliens is dependent upon access to information that is reliable and verifiable. Problems arise when attempting to vet people from countries that are unwilling to share information or have few reliable public records. Somalia is one of those countries.

A troubled country located on the horn of Africa, Somalia has long suffered from corrupt government, civil war and militant extremism. Due to the lack of any functioning government, Somalia has become a safe haven for terrorists. The principal extremist threat in Somalia comes from the Al Qaeda affiliate Al Shabab, although other Islamist terror groups are known to operate freely within the country.

In 2009, the Norwegian body that monitors refugee crises reported that, “Although a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has been established in Somalia, no agencies have been mandated to issue personal documents. Furthermore, there are no registries containing information which can establish the identity of individual citizens.” Over the last seven years, the situation has not improved. In September of 2016, The Economist magazine referred to Somalia as the most-failed state on Earth.

In short, there is no reliable method for determining whether Somalis are who they claim to be; thus, there may be no way to determine what derogatory information may exist with regard to a particular applicant. This may be why the government has made the wrong call in so many cases. In fact, vetting of Somali refugees has been so poor that the government has been accused of “breeding terrorists” in the Midwest, where the majority of these individuals have been resettled.

When will the U.S. government put the security needs of the American public first? Hopefully the new administration will immediately stop admitting people it can’t adequately vet. If it doesn’t, then the United States may find itself facing the same type of public safety crises that Germany, Belgium, and France are now experiencing.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    When has FAIR said that immigration laws should apply only to Mexicans? Please provide an example of when they did this.

    • avatar

      Yes Leland

      We need lots of construction workers to build the trillion dollar infrastructure…more Mexicans put to work, since construction lacks enough legal citizens????

      Its simple, do in construction what Disney did to high school level programmers or ITs…..give the IAs green cards [like a month or more, as required] to train legal citizens from the 100M Americans forced out of the labor force. Mexican replacements with legal Americans this time. The Mexicans can self deport when eVerify is 100% implemented…

      • avatar

        Sessions is all for e-verify. Naturally liberals will make all sorts of claims that it discriminates and that some people don’t have proper ID. In other words, all their usual excuses why we can’t enforce the law.

      • avatar

        Most illegal immigrants are more likely to work in the lower skilled construction and residential construction. Trump’s rebuilding of the US in many states have more union people, granted some illegal immigrants are in unions but few guest workers would probably be required for most of the jobs.

  2. avatar

    U see Matt …. u guys are so worried about the Mexicans when everybody else gets a hand out but them….too late.