A suspected airstrike carried out by the United States hit southern Somalia just days after a flight filled with 92 detainees from the United States was set to land for deportation.
Among the detainees were several people who had been living in Minnesota since they were young. Their families are concerned about violent conditions on the ground in Somalia and are fearful for their loved ones’ safety.
Last week, the plane carrying the detainees stopped in Senegal to re-fuel and give the flight crew more rest. Immigration agents then decided to reschedule the mission and fly back to Miami instead.
“A number of individuals who have already been deported to Somalia have died in terrorist attacks and so it’s not a safe place,” said Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of Minnesota’s Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Hussein has been working with the families to see if they can get immigration and customs to put a pause on deportations to Somalia until terrorist attacks cease.
“Our biggest thing right now is that there is no other country who is deporting people right now to Somalia—the conditions in Somalia are not ready for people to be deported and many of these individuals have had no criminal history,” said Hussein.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests have spiked drastically under the Trump administration’s new immigration policies, including those who have no criminal records in the U.S.
Homeland Security officials have also removed protected statuses from countries like Haiti, Nicaragua and Honduras, which have been in effect for years because conditions on the ground were not safe for nationals to return. The U.S. has 10 countries on their “temporary protected status” list. However, being on that list does not stop ICE from deporting people.
According to immigration officials, it’s still unclear what will happen to the group awaiting deportation to Somalia. Attorneys are trying to file last minute motions to keep them in the U.S. In the meantime, the detainees are being held in a detention center in Florida. Some of the men on the flight reported back to their families they were treated poorly by federal agents including being denied food and medicine. ICE says that is categorically false.