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In 2013, Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) joined a crowd flooding into the Hotel Ivy in Minneapolis to see former Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Hotel staff asked police to help clear the lobby and anyone without a hotel room key had to leave. Most complied, but Omar refused and wound up arrested for trespassing. In her booking photo, Omar appears sans hijab and rather startled.
Omar then proceeded to rack up a series of traffic violations, 24 in all, including driving without a license. This has led some to wonder if Omar believes she is bound only by Shariah, the law of Allah, and not by the laws of the United States. Other pertinent questions involve the freshman congresswoman’s reality, and how it squares with U.S. immigration law.
As David Steinberg has painstakingly documented, a trove of British and U.S. marriage records, address records, archived online communications, sworn court documents, photos, and tax records all refute Omar’s claims about these incidents and others in her recent past. By all indications, she entered into a sham marriage with her brother, hardly the first case of immigration fraud.
Nigerian Ibraheem Adeneye “was stripped of his U.S. citizenship after he was convicted of arranging fake marriages for others and himself,” the Houston Chronicle reported. The fake marriages were intended “for the Nigerians to gain U.S. citizenship.”
Adeneye’s previous marriage was also “fake” and he was convicted of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, naturalization fraud, and making a false statement to a federal agency. His citizenship was revoked and he was subject to deportation.
Ramsi Khader Almallah, born in Jordan, paid Texas woman Rose Marie Hawley for a sham marriage in 1981. That took place four days before his student visa expired and helped the Jordanian national gain residency in 1982 and U.S. citizenship in 1988. His citizenship was revoked and Almallah, founder of the Carpet Mills chain of stores, appealed the denaturalization.
In 2007, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “an alien’s marrying a United States citizen for the purpose of circumventing immigration laws is not valid to confer immigration benefits.” Almallah was “not eligible for immediate-relative status, permanent-resident status or naturalization,” and Almallah “willfully misrepresented his eligibility to the INS at each of these stages.” Therefore, the court found, “the evidence was clear and convincing that Almallah fraudulently obtained his United States citizenship,” and affirmed his denaturalization.
Such immigration problems, as it happens, are hardly exclusive to Muslims.
During World War II, Elfriede Rinkel served as a guard at the Ravensbrueck concentration camp, where she deployed an attack dog trained by the Nazi SS. She managed to immigrate to California, where, incredibly enough, she married a German-born Jew whose parents had perished in the Holocaust. Even so, she lied about her past and in 2006 agreed to leave the United States, but not before collecting $120,000 in Social Security benefits.
As many as 10,000 Nazis lied about their past, got into the United States, and even became citizens. In a deal from the Justice Department, if they left voluntarily before being deported, they could continue to collect their Social Security checks. In 2015 it emerged that 133 Nazi war criminals, SS guards and other perpetrators of atrocities had received $20.2 million in Social Security benefits.
If legal immigrants and legitimate U.S. citizens find that alarming, they might imagine a 30-something Elfriede Rinkel running for Congress. Imagine that, as a newly elected representative, Elfriede put on the cap she wore as a guard at Ravensbrueck and proclaimed that “some people did something,” in reference to the Holocaust, or Nazi military operations against the Allies. Imagine if Elfriede got on CNN and endlessly attacked U.S. leaders and U.S. policy, then attempted to portray herself as a victim of xenophobia or perhaps naziphobia.
It’s a safe bet that veterans and Holocaust survivors would be up in arms, and that Americans would demand that the government send Rep. Elfriede Rinkel back where she came from. That’s what happened to Jakiw Palij, the last known World War II Nazi living in the United States.
In 1949, Palij arrived in America claiming he worked on his father’s farm during the war. A Justice Department investigation revealed he served as an armed guard at Trawniki, a forced-labor camp for Jews, and a place where the Nazis trained SS troops to kill Polish Jews.
A federal judge stripped Palij of his citizenship in 2003 and the next year he was ordered deported. That didn’t happen until 2018. “The Obama Administration was unable to pull it off,” President Trump said at the time. “And, frankly, the Bush Administration was unable to pull it off. And I was able to pull it off.”
Democratic presidential candidates are fond of repeating that no one is above the law. The INS and the Justice Department should now look into Omar’s case. If found guilty of immigration fraud, she would be subject to deportation, just like Elfriede Rinkel, Ibraheem Adeneye, and many others. As former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger likes to say, “you can do it.”
Photo Credit: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images