So the Nashville Somali community is upset and is urging our elected officials to get involved. ( http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/2015/03/07/nashville-somalis-worry-wiring-money-back-home/24517503)
The upset is over banks across the country closing accounts which enabled them to make money transfers back to their native homes. The banks chose to rid themselves of this service due to the ease of the money being used to fund terrorism, especially in war torn areas such as Somali.
What you should know, is it is not as peachy as the story portrays. The money remittance system referred to in the Tennessean is called a Hawala. “This is a lifeline to families back home,” said Abdishakur Mohamed, a refugee resettlement coordinator and himself a refugee who sends money home. “There’s no government to help people. If this is disconnected, they will be in horrible condition.” There’s the operative words, there’s no government. So there is no way to control or monitor where the money is going once it is “transferred”. In describing the system in his article, reporter Tony Gonzalez gives a brief idea of how the Hawala works, (except he doesn’t use that term)
In a hawala transaction, there is no actual transfer of cash, but rather a transaction done on the honor system
The Tennessean article says:
Consumer: To send $100 to Somalia typically costs $5. The transaction is vetted in several ways, including against a known-terrorist list. In as little as 15 minutes, the recipient in Somalia can be notified, and prove identity, to receive the funds.
Well, not exactly. He is right about the cost, using a Hawala is cheaper that Western Union. Vetting in several ways? Who vets what? Names on a known terrorist list? You think terrorists, (Al Shabaab in this case) use their real names? Prove identity? Remember a refugee himself stated “There’s no government to help people”, so who is vetting and looking at ID? Refugees arriving in America don’t arrive with birth certificates, or drivers licenses, or any ID for that matter.
Hawala’s have been in existence for hundreds of years stemming back to countries like India and China. Here in the United States though, Hawala’s tend to be operated in the shadows, and for many reasons. For one thing, Hawalas allow for the transfer of unlimited money, therefore no taxes or no cash transaction reports. ” Oxfam International recently estimated that Somalis abroad send home $1.3 billion each year“. Yes Billion. With no way to track who really is receiving that money. Sure families may be receiving some money, but do you really believe members of Al Shabaab and Boko Haram aren’t there waiting for their share?
Immigrants prefer Hawalas over traditional banking for several reasons. Cheap. No ID. Takes hours instead of days. Can be completed at any time, so there is no wait for weekends or holidays. Lower exchange rates. And they are dealing with a member of their own community that runs the business, called a hawaladar. Often, the hawala is run out of another business like a convenience store or gas station and is advertised in their native language.
Hopefully the elected officials being urged by the community to assist in this business, do their homework and realize we can put all kinds of laws and rules in place on this end, but who will do the same in Somali? From my experience, Somali’s don’t like America as we are seen as the oppressors. Most community members refuse to assimilate, and prefer to remain isolated.
It’s really swell the Somali community wants the U.S government to be involved. It’s really stupid if we do.
Talk about aiding an enemy.