Growing up near a large Somali community south of Seattle and stopping by regularly for coffee and a chat, I learned how hard-working and hopeful Somalis are and how much they sacrifice, not only to support their families here in America but back home in Somalia.
Eighty percent of Somalis rely on cash transfers (remittances) from Somali refugees and emigres abroad for their survival, depending on this assistance for basic things like food and shelter.
But now this lifeline is under threat as banks, under pressure from tightening U.S. anti-terrorism regulations, are cutting off these transfers. However, this policy will surely have the opposite effect, jeopardizing Somalia's rebuilding efforts and heightening an already desperate situation, driving more people into the arms of terrorist groups.
Cutting off remittances is not a minor inconvenience for the people of Somalia; it is a matter of life and death. Deepening the suffering and hardship of millions of innocent people still contending with immense humanitarian challenges as a precautionary measure against an enemy as nebulous as "terrorists" is not sound policy. It is not a solution.
There are alternatives, and I suggest we explore them now.