ACTION ALERT: ICE Accused of Humanitarian Crimes Targeting Detainees
April 4, 2018
Isra Ibrahim / MPower Change & Josh Marcus / The Intercept
Emboldened by an openly bigoted White House, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have been ramping up their abusive behavior targeting Black and brown communities. One of the most egregious cases involves 92 Somali migrants on a botched deportation flight -- who endured barbaric treatment at the hands of ICE agents, including being beaten and shackled for 40 hours.
ICE Accused of Humanitarian Crimes Targeting Detainees
Isra Ibrahim / MPower Change
(April 3, 2018) -- Emboldened by an openly bigoted White House, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have been ramping up their abusive behavior targeting Black and brown communities.
One of the most egregious cases involves 92 Somali migrants on a botched deportation flight -- who endured barbaric treatment at the hands of ICE agents, including being beaten and shackled for 40 hours. (1)
The worst part is that the flight was just the beginning of their abuse. All of the 92 are still being held in detention and continue to face racist assaults at the hands of ICE agents -- not only physical abuse, but being called the n-word and told they will be sent "back to the jungle." (2)
Marc Moore (ICE Florida's Field Office Director) is the ranking ICE official for the detention centers where the Somali 92 are being held. We're calling on him to immediately stop this abuse and hold his agents accountable for their actions. Click here to send him a message.
We only know their harrowing stories because, due to a logistical error, the flight -- whose conditions have been compared to that of a "slave ship" -- returned and landed in the US.
Upon the flight's return, the Somali migrants filed a class action lawsuit against the federal government. The suit reads:
As the plane sat on the runway, the 92 detainees remained bound, their handcuffs secured to their waists, and their feet shackled together.
When the plane's toilets overfilled with human waste, some of the detainees were left to urinate into bottles or on themselves. ICE agents wrapped some who protested, or just stood up to ask a question, in full-body restraints. ICE agents kicked, struck, or dragged detainees down the aisle of the plane, and subjected some to verbal abuse and threats.(3)
The conditions that the 92 Somali detainees endured are, unfortunately, not an aberration. ICE agents have been operating as an unaccountable network -- abusing power, using excessive force, and subjecting detainees to horrific treatment.
And the fact that these migrants are Black and Muslim means that the state feels even more impunity to use violence against them. Just last week, another group of Somali migrants, who claimed physical and sexual violence at the hands of ICE, were deported from a Texas detention camp before their abusers could face justice. (4)
While their lawsuit is pending, the 92 Somalis are subject to the whims of the same officers and institutions that they're fighting against -- and no one has been held accountable.
Here's just one example of what these migrants are up against: on February 9th, the toilets in isolation cells at Glades County Detention Center began overflowing onto the floors, making them unusable.
When two Somali detainees complained and asked for a mop so that they could clean the sewage themselves, officers "sprayed pepper spray through the slots of their cells, making them unable to breathe," according to court records. The detainees were then subjected to disgusting racial slurs and brutal beatings -- just for wanting a proper toilet. (5)
ACTION: It is unconscionable to allow this abuse to go on for even one more day. Sign the petition to Marc Moore and demand that he take action.
We demand an immediate end to the ongoing abuse of Somali detainees at the Krome and Glades detention centers. We call on you to hold a thorough internal investigation of the numerous allegations of physical and verbal abuse, and hold all officers found responsible accountable for their actions.
P.S. We'll be demonstrating outside of the Krome detention facility this Saturday, April 7th.
1. "US Put 92 Somalis on a Deportation Flight, Then Brought Them Back," The New York Times, Dec 9, 2017.
2. "Excessive Force," The Intercept, Mar 4, 2018.
3. "Somalis in South Florida Deported by ICE on 'Slave Ship' File Class-Action Suit," The Miami New Times, Dec 19, 2017.
4. "ICE just deported 25 Somalis who said they were physically and sexually abused in detention," Vice News, Mar 30, 2018.
5. "Excessive Force," The Intercept, Mar 4, 2018.
ICE Just Deported 25 Somalis Who Said
They Were Physically and Sexually Abused in Detention
Josh Marcus / The Intercept
(March 30, 2018) -- For 25 Somali migrants who alleged Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers physically and sexually abused them while in custody, their time in the US has ended.
The migrants, part of a group of 113 Africans set for deportation, boarded a plane in Texas on Thursday bound for South Sudan, and Somali officials confirmed their arrival in Mogadishu, ICE said on Friday.
A week earlier, Texas civil rights organizations had released a public report detailing the treatment that 30 of the Somali men allegedly endured while at a notorious Texas detention facility: physical and sexual abuse, racial slurs, denial of medical care, and arbitrary placement in solitary confinement.
The complaints prompted a federal investigation that ICE knew about, documents revealed. Still, the agency moved to deport the Somalis. Only five of the 30 men won emergency appeals to stay in the US. The rest returned to Somalia, where the terror group al-Shabaab awaits many of them.
Lawyers for the migrants said they filed multiple complaints to local and federal authorities about their clients' treatment at the detention facility, which included being pepper-sprayed to the point of coughing up blood, hit in the face, and fondled, among other alleged abuse, according to the report. The Department of Homeland Security's internal watchdog, the Office of the Inspector General, then launched an investigation.
ICE, however, declined to comment on the investigation -- or on the veracity of the allegations in the complaints -- but said the agency became aware of the migrants' alleged treatment after the report dropped last week. ICE's Office of Professional Responsibility is now investigating.
"US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Enforcement and Removal Operations takes very seriously any allegations of misconduct or unsafe conditions," an ICE spokesperson told VICE News in a statement. "ICE maintains a strict zero-tolerance policy for any kind of abusive behavior and requires all staff working with the agency to adhere to this policy."
ICE's El Paso Acting Field Office Director William P. Joyce, however, acknowledged that the Office of the Inspector General had come to Texas to speak to the detainees for the investigation on Monday, according to a Wednesday letter he sent to lawyers representing the detainees.
"We worked in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General to provide access to the named detainees," the letter reads.
The Office of the Inspector General neither confirmed nor denied the investigation to VICE News, but ICE verified that Joyce's letter was authentic.
"Insofar as the remainder," the letter continues, referring to the Somalis who couldn't secure emergency deportation stays, "there are no legal impediments to their removal, and I am not presently disposed to stay their removal."
Under the Obama administration, a 2014 policy suggested ICE should consider if people were victims or witnesses to crimes, or if they were seeking civil rights relief, before deciding to deport them. But in 2017, the Trump administration rescinded that policy and most other Obama-era immigration directives.
Somalia is included in the latest iteration of President Trump's controversial travel ban, which severely restricts travel from eight mostly majority-Muslim countries to the US His administration also deported 521 Somalis in fiscal year 2017, up from 198 the period before, according to federal data.
Prior to Thursday, the Somalis' deportation flight was rescheduled, and the detainees were moved multiple times. The last-minute changes made it difficult for their families to bring them any possessions, according to the lawyers involved in the case.
"They didn't have anything to take with them," said Fatma Marouf, director of Texas A&M law school's immigrant rights clinic, which is representing men on the flight. "They'd arrive in Somalia with no proper shoes, no clothes, no nothing."
Even the five Somalis who managed to secure last-minute stays are worried. If they lose their deportation appeals, they'll likely be sent back to their home country, where al-Shabaab is spreading terror.
One Somali named Abdullahi, for example, fled Mogadishu in 2009 after members of al-Shabaab killed his brother and told him, "You're next," according to his lawyer. After having his birth certificate stolen, and thus having problems identifying himself in court, he was denied asylum in the US,
(Abdullahi's last name has been withheld to protect his identity in the event he loses his appeal to stay in the US.)
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