Abdul Razak Ali Artan, the Somali refugee who attacked eleven people on the campus of Ohio State University on Monday, was initially resettled in Texas by Catholic Charities of Dallas in June 2014, according to The Dallas Morning News:
The Somali-born man suspected of plowing his car into a group of pedestrians on the Ohio State University campus Monday and stabbing people with butcher knife had ties to Dallas.
Abdul Razak Ali Artan, his mother and six siblings got help from Catholic Charities after they arrived in Dallas on June 5, 2014, KXAS-TV (NBC5) reported.
“We gave them aid and comfort and some shelter as part of the government resettlement program,” Catholic Charities C.E.O. Dave Woodyard told the station.
Artan and his family “arrived at DFW Airport by way of JFK International Airport, and stayed in temporary housing in Dallas for 23 days,” according to NBC5.
A spokesperson for the State Department tells Breitbart News that 98 Somali refugees arrived in Texas in June of 2014, according to the U.S. Department of State’s Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System database.
Twenty-six were resettled in Dallas, 47 in Fort Worth, 19 in Houston, and 6 in Austin.
NBC News reported earlier that Artan was born in Somalia, then moved to Pakistan with his family in 2007.
“Pakistan continues to host approximately 1.45 million refugees. Most are from Afghanistan and live in refugee villages and urban areas,” according to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) website for Pakistan.
Presumably, Artan and his family were processed by the UNHCR while in Pakistan, where they completed the current security vetting process and overseas medical screening. At some point, they were approved to enter the United States as participants in the federal refugee resettlement program by an officer of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), part of the Department of Homeland Security.
Subsequent to that approval, bureaucrats at the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) determined that Artan and his family should be resettled in Texas.
Typically, those determinations are made based upon considerations of local support systems, which include whether a community of refugees from the same country of origin exists at the destination and whether family members are already located there.
After determining the “head count” of arriving refugees for a particular city and state, the local authorized resettlement agency (the affiliate of one of nine major voluntary agencies, or “VOLAGs,” who are paid more than $1 billion per year by the federal government to resettle refugees), is paid to resettle the refugees. Those payments include allocations for housing, food, education, and other financial benefits.
Local resettlement agencies typically submit annual resettlement plans, which identify the number of refugees they intend to resettled, and the countries of origin of those refugees.
In the case of Artan, his mother, and six siblings, all eight were made the responsibility of Catholic Charities of Dallas, which “began resettling refugees operating under the auspices of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) contract with the federal government. . . in the late 1970s,” according to its website.
“If the USCIS officer approves the refugee’s application for U.S. resettlement, he or she will be matched with Catholic Charities of Dallas, Inc. – Refugee Services directorate. Our Refugee services are staffed with professionals and volunteers to assist refugees,” the website notes.
“The International Organization for Migration (IOM) arranges air travel for refugees coming to the U.S. Before a refugee leaves the country of asylum, he or she signs a promissory note and agrees to repay the U.S. government for travel costs. IOM sends travel information to our Refugee Services and arrangements are made for the arrival,” the website adds.
“After arrival, case management promotes early self-sufficiency and cultural adjustment. Services provided within the first thirty days include appropriate housing, application for Social Security number, health screening/immunizations, school registration, English classes and job search. Those who are eligible for employment post thirty days may seek assistance through the Match Grant program or Job Placement services,” according to the Refugee Resettlement Services page of the Catholic Charities of Dallas website.
“Catholic Charities of Dallas works with the United States government to shelter refugees and victims of circumstance. The Resettlement Program makes arrangements for the refugee to be met at the airport and begins the process of helping the refugee resettle in their new community,” the website says.
“The State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and the VOLAGs decide where refugees are initially resettled. Once they arrive, the refugees are free to move wherever they want to,” an attorney familiar with the federal refugee resettlement program tells Breitbart News.
Most refugees, however, remain in their area of initial resettlement for at least one year because, lacking financial resources, they are dependent upon the benefits provided to them by their sponsoring resettlement agency. Refugees who leave their initial resettlement area are described as “secondary migrants.”
But Artan and his family quickly left Dallas and became secondary migrants to Ohio.
Somali refugees appear to have high rates of secondary migration once they arrive in the United States.
“Like most refugees who have been resettled in the United States, it was expected there would be some secondary migration to established ethnic communities; however, in the case of the Somali, migration after they have initially been resettled in an American community appears to occur frequently and sometimes on a large scale,” Jay L. Newberry, an assistant professor of geography at Binghamton University, wrote in his 2011 Phd. dissertation at Michigan State University, “Somali Refugee Resettlement and Locational Determinants in the United States.”
“These migrations – commonly referred to as secondary migrations – and some of their negative consequences are evident in media reports from places such as Lewiston, Maine,” Newberry noted.
Newberry’s dissertation included a case study of the Somali community in Columbus, Ohio, which is a magnet of secondary migration for Somali refugees. The city has the second largest Somali community in the United States, surpassed in size only by that of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“On June 28, 2014, the family moved to Columbus, Ohio, [Catholic Charities of Dallas CEO] Woodyard said. After that, Catholic Charities closed its file on them,” NBC5 reported.
Breitbart News asked Woodyard if Artan and his family completed the initial domestic medical screening recommended for all refugees within 90 days of their arrival during their brief stay in Dallas, but the voice mail message was not returned.
Breitbart News also asked Woodyard if Artan and his family repaid the promissory note for their air travel from Pakistan to Texas, and asked who paid for the family’s travel and subsequent stay in Ohio. Breitbart received no response to those questions.
“Annually in the Resettlement and Placement proposals, VOLAGs report out migration and refugees move for welfare, family and other community connections, jobs, etc,” the attorney familiar with the refugee resettlement program says.
“Could they have had a clan issue in Dallas? Why temporary shelter? That would not be in compliance with the Cooperative Agreement that Catholic Charities signs, unless they knew upon the arrival of Artan and his family that they were going to move on to another city,” the attorney says.
“Technically, Catholic Charities in Dallas would have received the R&P grant, so did they refund the unused portion of that to the government once the family left? Supposedly the R&P money does not follow the family but the VOLAG in Columbus could still choose to assist the family,” the attorney adds.
According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website, there are three local refugee resettlement agencies that serve Columbus, Ohio (Franklin County):
Community Refugee & Immigration Services of Ohio (CRIS), the local affiliate of Church World Service and Episcopal Migration Ministries, two of the nine national VOLAGs, World Relief, another of the nine national VOLAGs, and US Together, which receives support “from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (HIAS), and Franklin & Cuyahoga County Department of Job and Family Services,” according to its website.
Breitbart News contacted all three of these local organizations to confirm or deny if they provided financial assistance to Abdul Artan and his family between June 2014 and November 2016.
“I can confirm that CRIS did not work with this family,” Angela Plummer of CRIS-Ohio told Breitbart News in an emailed statement.
Breitbart News received no response from World Relief or US Together.
The Somali Community Association of Ohio (SCAO), is “an officially recognized 501 (C)(3) non-profit organization founded by Somali Community Immigrants in 1996.”
According to its website, “The Somali Community Association is a first grass-root Somali Organization in Ohio, which was the first to provide services to the Somali Community.” The group’s partners include The Central Ohio Workforce Investment Corporation, Franklin County, The City of Columbus, Columbus Police Department, Department of Health, and The Columbus Foundation.
Breitbart News asked the person who answered the phone on Tuesday at the SCAO if the organization provided financial assistance to Abdul Artan and his family between June 2014 and November 2016. The person said they would call back with an answer, but Breitbart News has not yet received that response.
According to the SCAO website, “45,000+ Somali live in Ohio.”
“99.9% of Somali are Muslims,” the website states, and “More than One Thousand of Somali’s are attending Ohio Colleges and Universities.”
“Somali refugees started arriving in the U.S. in 1991. Since 1995, Columbus, Ohio has proven to be a popular destination for refugees and today Ohio has the second largest Somali population in the U.S. It is estimated that there are at least 38,000 Somali immigrants and refugees living in the Columbus metropolitan area. In addition, it is estimated that 200 immigrants can be expected monthly within the next four years,” the SCAO website also notes:
The SCAO was founded in 1996, and has been providing services for the Somali community since 1999. Many individuals and different Somali groups from a wide range of Somali political and geographical locations work with the SCAO behind the scenes to provide to the Somali community in Central Ohio. As a result, we have been able to successfully provide a Somali approach to social services that had not previously been attempted
The SCAO provides a number of services and programs, including “Translation and Interpretation … ESL, Vocational and Family Literacy … Elder Programs … Youth Programs … [and] Job Assistance.”
According to a document on the Columbus Foundation website, one of the organization’s funders, “over 400 households received help on housing matters” from the SCAO in 2013.
A review of financial records, however, indicates that the SCAO’s resources are modest, and its annual budget has been about $200,000 since 2003.
Breitbart News asked Omar Hassan, executive director, to confirm or deny whether SCAO provided financial assistance to Artan and his family, but he did not respond.
Hassan did, however, acknowledge to the Cincinnati Enquirer on Tuesday that he knows Artan’s family:
Hassan knows members of the suspect’s family. He spoke with them at 3 p.m. Monday.
“They said the U.S. officials came this morning and got his mother and siblings,” Hassan said.
From Dave Woodyard, President & CEO of Catholic Charities of Dallas:
As a charitable organization focused on helping those in need, we are deeply saddened by the events in Columbus, Ohio, and are praying for the victims and their families, the Ohio State University community, and all those impacted by this tragedy.
Catholic Charities of Dallas has been contacted by law enforcement in connection with the investigation into yesterday’s events at Ohio State University. We have responded to law enforcement requests for information regarding an individual whose name matches the name of a family member that Catholic Charities provided with shelter, clothing, and other basic humanitarian services for a short time in 2014.
We remain in contact with the authorities and intend to assist in their investigation in any way we can. Out of respect for the various ongoing investigations into the incident, we ask that further inquiries be directed to the appropriate law enforcement officials.
Abdual Razak Ali Artan is not the only young Somali refugee who has been involved in a recent violent attack in the United States.
In September, Dahir Adan, a Somali refugee in his twenties, attacked ten people at a St. Cloud, Minnesota mall with a knife before he was shot dead by an off-duty police officer.