Fact Check

Navajo Rations

No, President Obama isn't sending 250,000 "Muslim refugees" to Navajo lands in Arizona and North Dakota.

Published Nov 30, 2015

[green-label]Claim:[/green-label]  President Obama is planning to send 250,000 Muslim refugees to the Navajo reservations of Arizona and North Dakota.


[green-label]Example:[/green-label] [green-small][Collected via e-mail, November 2015][/green-small]

Barack Hussein is planning to send 250,000 Muslim refugees to the Navajo reservations of AZ and ND. Moronic!!

[green-label]Origins:[/green-label] On 29 November 2015, the web site Powdered Wig Society published an article titled "Barack Hussein is planning to send 250,000 Muslim refugees to the Navajo reservations of AZ and ND. Moronic!!" claiming that:

The U.S. Department of State announced today that it will grant upwards of two-hundred and fifty thousand Syrian refugees temporary amnesty in the United States. Over the next four months, State Department officials working in conjunction with FEMA will begin processing and transporting the refugees to sparsely populated parts of Arizona and North Dakota.

“Due to the increasingly dire humanitarian situation in the Middle East, the United States has agreed to facilitate the transfer of a number of Syrian refugees to the Navajo and Standing Rock reservations where they will be provided with food, shelter, and medical treatment,” Cathy Pieper, a spokesperson for the Department of State, said Friday.

A subsequent portion of the article should have clued readers in to its original, satirical nature:

Ahmed Alsouki, who, along with his wife and two children, was one of the first Syrians to be granted temporary amnesty by the United States, told Vice News he feels very fortunate about the situation. “Before the war I was an entrepreneur,” Alsouki said. “I traveled many times to New Delhi on business, so I am very familiar with the Indian way of life.”

The article wasn't the first questionable claim about refugees advanced by Powdered Wig Society in recent days. On 5 November 2015 the site published a misleading article suggesting Sweden had erupted into "civil war" due to an influx of refugees, and on 15 November 2015 the site spread a fabricated claim that 10,000 Syrian refugees had arrived en masse in New Orleans.

As was the case with those previous articles, the image used was old and unrelated to the story at hand. The photograph shown above was first published to the Internet in May 2011 (likely in Italy) and had nothing to do with events involving Syrian refugees in November 2015.

The entire claim was lifted from a 6 September 2015 article published on the fake news site Real News, Right Now, titled "U.S. to House 250,000 Syrian Refugees at Navajo, Standing Rock Indian Reservations." Real News Right Now does not include a disclaimer identifying it as a fake news web site, but its "About" page claims author R. Hobbus J.D. was awarded fictional accolades like the "Oscar Mayer Award for Journalistic Excellence" and the "Stephen Glass [a journalist known for fabricating news stories] Distinction in Journalistic Integrity."

Previous works of satire from Real News Right Now's included articles claiming that President Obama was stripping Texas of statehood (and that President Obama was banning possession of Confederate flags), that Pope Francis was planning to change the Ten Commandments, and that the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was found in a warehouse owned by CNN.


[green-label]Last updated:[/green-label] 30 November 2015

[green-label]Originally published:[/green-label] 30 November 2015

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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