Videos are circulating that appear to show a large crowd of Somalis mercilessly "booing" and waving thumbs-down at Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) when she tried to take the stage to speak.
BREAKING: Ilhan Omar booed off stage by 10,000 Somali’s at a concert in HER DISTRICT in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
How HUMILIATING pic.twitter.com/xuoKyPIeYH
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) July 3, 2022
One cannot know just from observing why the crowd reacted that way to the liberal Congresswoman.
However, many Somalis and Somali-Americans are conservative-thinking and America-loving. Omar has frequently advocated controversial and radical positions; and often engages in hateful, anti-American and anti-Jewish sentiment. She was found guilty of misusing campaign funds to reimburse her alleged lover for travel expenses. And the FBI reportedly reviewed claims that she married her own brother so that he could get a green card. Those allegations have not been publicly substantiated. Her office has called that charge, "disgusting lies."
At the link below, watch my original report on the Somalis who have settled in Lewiston, Maine; and their assimilation.
I will be back in Maine soon to follow up on the Somali population and accomplishments there for my TV program Full Measure, which begins Season 8 in September!
July 10, 2016 — The Obama administration is pushing to deliver on a promise to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States this year. The State Department now says to expect the number coming in to increase. A special refugee "resettlement surge center" has been set up in Jordan and the processing time cut from almost two years to just three months.
How do Americans feel about the rush on refugees? A Rasmussen Reports survey this spring found: 59 percent of likely U.S.voters oppose allowing 10,000 Syrians to come to America by the end of the year. That report finds that just 31 percent favor letting those refugees come here. Eleven percent are undecided.
When asked how concerned Americans are that giving thousands of Syrians asylum poses a national security risk to the United States? Forty-Eight percent are very concerned, 25 percent are somewhat concerned, 19 percent are not very concerned, while seven percent are not at all concerned and one percent are unsure
What you may not know is that many asylum seekers and refugees are already here. They too were fleeing a vicious civil war, this one in Somalia. Last year, we visited one American town grappling with the financial and cultural impact of the unexpected newcomers.
The city of Lewiston can look like at times like a scene out of Africa or the Middle East, but it's actually in Maine. It is there that families, like the Siryuyumunsis, are coming to seek asylum.
Thadde Siryuyumunsi was a government official in Burundi, East Africa, which he says is devolving under the post-Arab Spring instability that's causing refugees to flee. However, why are some ending up in, of all places, Lewiston, Maine?
The Siryuyumunsis were pointed here after they arrived in Boston. At the airport, a fellow African noticed they seemed lost.
Siryuyumunsi: And approached them and told them, the best place now they can go is Lewiston, or Maine.
Achgan Tabet is also in Lewiston, seeking asylum from Djibouti, East Africa fleeing an arranged marriage.
Achgan Tabet: I came to Lewiston because I learned that there were many Djiboutians living in Lewiston, and I thought I could get help by them and I can be supported by the community.
Lewiston, Maine is struggling to build a new economy after its once bustling textile mills shut down.
Today, it's become a magnet for asylum seekers, catching everyone off guard, including Mayor Robert Macdonald.
Mayor Robert Macdonald: I had never heard of asylums. I didn't even know what this was. But I went up to the welfare office, and I was up there, and they're telling me, and they said, 'Oh, we got a whole bunch of people,' I think they were from the Congo, 'they speak beautiful French.' I said, 'Really? That's beautiful.' I said, 'Because I have jobs. Yeah, send them here.' 'Can't, can't, because they're asylum seekers. They can't work.'
Unlike refugees who are allowed to work right away, asylum seekers are different. While their applications are processed, federal law prohibits them from getting jobs and they're not eligible for most aid.
That's why they come to Maine, it's one of the few places that does give welfare to asylum seekers.
Phil Nadeau is the Deputy City Administrator of Lewiston.
Phil Nadeau: You know, a family might be eligible for a voucher to pay for rent, which, you know, on average, could be about $500 or $600 a month.
And it's not just rent; they may get help with medicine, food and utilities, all courtesy of local taxpayers. The immigrants know the benefits as "City Hall."
Sharyl Attkisson: Explain how you're getting by, how you're getting along?
Tabet: The 'City Hall' supports me.
Lewiston is now caring for people from at least 30 different countries.
Mayor Macdonald: We were told we had to take care of these people out of our pocket. No federal money. No state money. Just because they showed up here, we were responsible for them.
Town officials know the more aid they provide, the more immigrants they'll attract. They know because of their first immigration crisis.
Nadeau: We believe that we have record of the first families arriving in February of 2001.
The first wave consisted of refugees from Somalia, East Africa, including Said Mohamud.
Mohamud and his family were originally placed in Atlanta. But he says they encountered a culture clash, with Somalis worried their kids would imitate bad behavior in poor neighborhoods where refugees settled.
Said Mohamud: With drugs, you know, with pants down, you know with derogatory languages and rap music is, then they started no, no, no. That's not what we want here.
Sharyl: So you heard or you felt that the environment in Maine would be more what you were looking for, for your family?
Mohamud: Yes, and and and since mostly of the Somalis have a large families, so they were looking [for] a safe place. They know that it is snow, you know, state and them, that may not make happy and also they know that mostly of the men are white people, you know, that is their major, you know, fear.
Sharyl: So you compromise? You live with a lot of white people in a snowy cold state, but you like it?
If the Somalis had to adjust, so did many residents of Lewiston, who found Muslim culture brand new.
The only previous Muslim visitor most knew of was Muhammad Ali. He won a championship fight in Lewiston back in 1965.
Nadeau: I think a lot of people at that time were surprised that the fight was scheduled to be here in Lewiston.
In 2001, a few Somali refugees became fifty. By the end of 2002, there were about 1,000 Somalis in a town of 36,000. They brought their culture to every downtown street.
Mayor Macdonald says many locals felt the newcomers should adopt American ways.
Mayor Macdonald: Leave your culture at the door.
Sharyl: What does that mean?
Mayor Macdonald: That means we have a certain culture here. Don't start mixing ours in with yours. Okay? And that goes for Europeans. That goes for Asians. And that goes for anybody else. We have a specific culture here. I've told them that many times. I said, 'Look, you've got to assimilate.'
Fueling resentment was the fact that elderly and disabled Americans were on waiting lists for assistance, while the Somalis swallowed up nearly a third of Lewiston's welfare budget.
In 2002, then-Mayor Larry Raymond wrote a controversial open letter asking the Somalis to stop coming. ''Please pass the word: Our city is maxed-out financially, physically and emotionally.''
For that, he got accused of bigotry.
Macdonald, the current mayor, says the implication still sticks.
Mayor Macdonald: We had a person here the other night. She was an immigration attorney and she pointed out, she said, 'Well, you know, Maine's the whitest state in the union.' What exactly does that mean? I said, 'I know what it means. What your tone is, you're calling us racists.' I said, 'There's nobody down there at the, at the borders telling people to leave.' The people, I think, if you went around and talked to the Somalis , I, I mean which you do, you'll see that they feel very welcome here. Okay? I have a good relationship with them.
Mohamud: The Maine peoples are very good people. They welcome the Somalis.
Today, the Mohamuds own a popular ethnic market.
Mohamud: This is the photo of my whole family. We have eight kids together here.
Mohamed tells us three of their children have become a doctor, an accountant and an engineer.
Macdonald says the Somalis have become good citizens, but he worries how Lewiston can manage a new flood of asylum seekers.
Mayor Macdonald: They're costing us a fortune. Because we, and they're costing the people of Lewiston. Not the state of Maine, not the federal government, but the city of Lewiston is being, is being taxed with that.
Today, there are about 5,000 refugees and asylum seekers in the Lewiston area. Ten percent of the population, consuming 40 percent of the welfare.
Nadeau: Policy-makers have a very difficult job to do. There's not a lot of resources, and they're trying to divide up a progressively smaller pie every single year.
The competition for scarce resources poses a dilemma other U.S. towns are likely to face in greater numbers. There's an endless population of deserving immigrants.
Siryuyumunsi: People welcome us warmly and support us.
Tabet: I feel like I have been here forever, and I feel like I belong to this place.
But taking on these immigrants means difficult choices.
Sharyl: Is the town, is the state better off because this diversity that has happened?
Mayor Macdonald: No. I'm not gonna say that it is. As far as I'm concerned, I don't care if you're black, white, yellow or any. What we want is people that are gonna help us move forward.
After months of debate, a new state law took effect last year that requires Maine taxpayers to share in supporting the cost of asylum seekers by paying cities 70 percent of their expenses.