As it turns out, back in October 22, 2008, the U.S State Department closed down applications for the “Priority 3”, refugee reunification program. This program allowed refugees to apply for asylum if one family member was already a legal American resident.
And why did then-President George Bush’s State stop the program? Because DNA testing of African immigrant — primarily Somali and Ethiopian — had determined that over 80% of applicants were fraudulently claiming family relationships.
The Seattle Times reported that the suspended pilot program, known as Priority 3, allows foreign – almost all of them African – family members of legal U.S. residents to join relatives here.
With very little fanfare, the program was halted in March 2008 after DNA testing on applicants in Africa found that up to 87% of their familial claims were fraudulent.
The experimental program was conducted in late 2007 and early 2008 on 3,000 people mostly from Somalia, Ethiopia and Liberia who claimed blood relationships with each other and wanted to be reunited with a family member who had been resettled as a refugee in America.
DNA testing was not done on the alleged relatives in the U.S.. The State Department said it targeted Africans abroad only for genetic testing because they make up 95% of applicants to the program. As officials said, the testing started after suspicions of fraud arose in applications originating among refugees in Kenya.
“We were … only able to confirm all claimed biological relationships in fewer than 20 percent of cases,” the State Department claimed in a fact sheet. “In the remaining cases, at least one negative result was identified or the individuals refused to be tested.”
The fact sheet was originally released in the waning weeks of the Bush administration but was reissued shortly after Obama took the office.