MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Justice Department moved Monday to revoke the U.S. citizenship of four Minnesotans from Somalia accused of lying on their visa application. The four entered the U.S. through a program that President Donald Trump said should be eliminated after it was disclosed that the suspect in a recent New York terror attack had also used it.
Fosia Abdi Adan, 51, whose last known address was Eden Prairie, entered the U.S. under the diversity lottery visa program in 2001. Civil complaints filed in federal court in Minnesota on Monday allege she then used her visa to get visas for a man she falsely claimed was her husband, and two cousins of hers who she and the man falsely claimed were their children. The complaints say all four used false names at the time. They eventually became American citizens.
"The current immigration system is easily abused by fraudsters and nefarious actors, and that's certainly true of the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in the announcement. "If the fraud is not detected and swift enforcement actions are not taken, chain migration only multiplies the consequences of this abuse."
The complaints name Adan's purported husband as Ahmed Mohamed Warsame, 54, of St. Cloud, and their purported sons as Mustaf Abdi Adan, 33, of Minneapolis and Faysal Jama Mire, 31, of the Minneapolis area. None has a listed phone number and the case dockets don't list attorneys who could comment on their behalf.
Stripping the citizenship of a person who obtains it after entering the U.S. under fraudulent circumstances is a necessary first step before the government can seek deportation. The four are not currently facing criminal charges, Justice Department spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam said.
Affidavits accompanying the complaints from Special Agent Sarah Cope of the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service suggest that officials in the U.S. Embassy in Yemen became aware of the alleged immigration fraud around 2010. Ehrsam said such cases take a long time to investigate because of their complexity and the number of federal agencies involved.
According to the filings, Warsame got a sham divorce from Fosia Adan in Hennepin County in 2002. After becoming a U.S. citizen in 2006, he sought to bring over his real wife, Yurub Jama Hirad, a Yemeni national he married in 1996, and their four biological children, born between 2001 and 2007. He claimed three of them were his step-children from a purported previous marriage of hers. He said only the youngest, who was born after Warsame became a U.S. citizen and was thus a U.S. citizen herself, was their biological child together.
But DNA tests by fraud investigators at the embassy in 2010 showed that Warsame was the father of all four children, the filings say. During a subsequent interview with a Diplomatic Security Service agent, Hirad admitted they'd been married since 1996, that Warsame was never married to Fosia Adan, and that he had used fraudulent documents to get into the U.S. The embassy rejected his petitions to bring his family from Yemen to the U.S. He petitioned again in 2013 and 2014.
Cope wrote that she interviewed Warsame at his home in St. Cloud in 2016, when he admitted to many of the same things as his wife. He also said Adan was his cousin.
The diversity visa program is designed for people from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. It awards up to 50,000 visas annually by lottery. The program was part of a bipartisan immigration bill signed by President George W. Bush in 1990.
Trump last week called for eliminating the program, a day after a deadly truck attack in New York City. The Uzbek suspect in that attack entered the U.S. legally through the lottery program.
This story has been edited to clarify that DOJ spokeswoman says the four are not currently facing criminal charges.