State dept official: Census count of Somalis in MN is too low

A high-ranking State Department official disputes the recently-released census data on Minnesota's Somali population.

Donald Yamamoto, the principal deputy for the State Department's Africa Bureau, says the numbers are too low.

The Census Bureau's American Community Survey says there are about 25,000 people with Somali ancestry in Minnesota and nearly 86,000 in the United States.

"That's way too low," Yamamoto said. "We're trying to get the statistics of refugees admitted into the United States plus, when a refugee comes in, you can get family members on visas, like Visa 92/93. That's way more than 100,000."

Yamamoto says he's not sure how many Somalis are actually in the U.S., but he's going back to Washington to try to get a more accurate count.

In the past, many members of the Somali community have also said Census figures do not accurately reflect their numbers.

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