Fake News: Obama Did Not Import 70,000 Somali Immigrants And Park Them In Minnesota's 5th Congressional District

Fact Check

  • by: Alan Duke
Fake News: Obama Did Not Import 70,000 Somali Immigrants And Park Them In Minnesota's 5th Congressional District

Did President Obama "import" 70,000 Somali immigrants into the Unites States and "park" them in Minnesota's 5th congressional district, helping elect Ilhan Omar to congress? No, that's not true: It doesn't add up. Just about 54,000 Somali refugees entered the United States during the eight Obama years, and only about 6,300 of them located in Minnesota. Omar defeated her Republican opponent by a 193,000 vote margin in the November 2018 election, so the new residents of Somali origin could not have influenced the outcome.

The false claim has been shared through a meme trending on social media since the election, including in this meme (archived here) where it was published on May 7, 2019. It read:

So Obama imports 70,000 Somali immigrants and parks them in Minnesota, where almost all cluster in a single area, specifically the fifth congressional district.

That district recently was identified by the FBI as America's terrorist recruitment capital, and is represented by Ilhan Omar, who is call for dissolution of America's homeland security. Are you connecting the dots yet?

This is what social media users saw:

There were 174,000 people living in the United States who claimed Somali ancestry in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Click here to see the chart of all ancestries. Of those, 69,474 lived in Minnesota (which could be where the meme's creator got the 70,000 number.) Click here to see the Census chart for Minnesota. Even if every person of Somali heritage in the U.S. were uprooted by Obama, "parked" in Minnesota's 5th district, were registered to vote there and showed up to cast ballots, it still would not have been Omar's margin of victory.

Those living in Minnesote who claimed ancestry from any subsaharan African country totals 179,371. If each of them moved into the 5th district and voted, it is still short of Omar's margin of victory. See the numbers here.

But the meme specifically references those admitted to the U.S. during Obama's two terms. An analysis of data from the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Office of Admissions - Refugee Processing Center conducted by FactCheck.org counts 54,514 Somali refugees entered the United States between the day Obama took office -- January 20, 2009 -- and this last full day in the White House -- January 19, 2019. The number who settled in Minnesota was 6,320. See that analysis here. Again, these numbers would not have made a difference in the Omar election.

These census numbers also count a large number of people who are not old enough to vote or who are not U.S. citizens. Doing the math proves this meme is false.

  Alan Duke

Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke co-founded Lead Stories after ending a 26-year career with CNN, where he mainly covered entertainment, current affairs and politics. Duke closely covered domestic terrorism cases for CNN, including the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, the UNABOMBER and search for Southeast bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. CNN moved Duke to Los Angeles in 2009 to cover the entertainment beat. Duke also co-hosted a daily podcast with former HLN host Nancy Grace, "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace" and hosted the podcast series "Stan Lee's World: His Real Life Battle with Heroes & Villains." You'll also see Duke in many news documentaries, including on the Reelz channel, CNN and HLN.

Read more about or contact Alan Duke

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