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Obama did not resettle 70,000 Somali refugees in Minnesota

April 18, 2019 GMT

CLAIM: “President Barack Obama resettled 70,000 Somali refugees in Minnesota. No wonder Rep. Ilhan Omar was elected.”

 AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Minnesota received only 6,320 Somali refugees under the Obama administration, according to data from the U.S. Department of State’s Refugee Processing Center. 

 THE FACTS: The data shows a total of about 54,000 Somali refugees came to the U.S. while Obama was president from Jan. 2009 to Jan. 2017. Of those, only 6,320 settled in Minnesota. In contrast, the administration of President George W. Bush placed roughly 9,800 Somali refugees in Minnesota, the data shows.


 The false claim suggested the number of Somali refugees resettled in Minnesota under Obama helped Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, win her election to Congress last year. The claim circulated widely on Facebook as a text post on colorful backgrounds. 

Omar came to the United States from Somalia 24 years ago, and later settled with her family in Minneapolis. Somali refugees have long migrated to Minnesota and first began settling there in the early 1990s to flee an ongoing civil war, said Micaela Schuneman, refugee services director for the International Institute of Minnesota, a nonprofit that offers immigration services in the region. Minnesota continues to be a popular place for the State Department to place Somali refugees because many of them have family members in the state and benefit from having an existing community of people from their home country, Schuneman said.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program:


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.