Friday, July 08, 2011

Obama Sr. and DSK's accuser

I can't be the only reader whose mind jumped to Dominique Strauss-Kahn's accuser when I read this:
Mr. Obama’s father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr., told immigration officials that Ann Dunham, whom he had recently married, would make “arrangements with the Salvation Army to give the baby away,” one document said...

An immigration official had become leery of his “playboy ways” and thought Mr. Obama might have more than one wife, which can be grounds for deportation. Mr. Obama said at the time — falsely — that he had divorced his Kenyan wife, with whom he had two children.

The excerpt of the book says it is unclear whether Mr. Obama intended to have his son adopted or if he was fabricating the story to appease immigration officials. Mr. Obama often gave contradictory answers on the forms, sometimes leaving questions about his marital status blank. 
Jesse Ellison recently reported on the pressures that induce refugees seeking asylum to lie. While the stakes are lower for those on student visas, like Obama Sr., the mind set is still instructive:

That she lied on her claim for asylum has been covered with particular zeal. But experts and those familiar with such claims say that dishonesty is common when it comes to refugees—not because they’re intentionally trying to scam the system, but because the way such claims are processed and determined puts asylum-seekers in a position where they may feel  they have no other choice...

Approval rates swing wildly from courtroom to courtroom. One court officer can approve 90 percent of the cases that come before the bench, and just down the hall another might decline nine of the 10 that come before him. It’s a discretionary system—a “refugee roulette”—that has contributed to myth-making within immigrant communities, where the stories that “worked,” are passed around like lucky charm.
Most people hoping to emigrate to the U.S. or prolong their stay will probably say anything to an immigration official that they thought would help and that they could get away with.

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