Dating back to Donald Trump’s campaign promises to have ICE agents round up immigrants, many communities have been on edge.
And since taking office he’s stepped up not only his rhetoric but also increased the powers afforded to ICE agents to track, detain, arrest and deport immigrants.
And just last week, the agency whose job it is to oversee green cards and citizenship has changed their mission statement. They have removed the line that defined America as a “nation of immigrants.”
Lee Francis Cissna, the director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), recently told employees in a letter that the statement was altered in order to “guide us in the years ahead.”
The Intercept uncovered a shocking new story that details horrific abuses by ICE agents as they increase their patrols and arrests in immigrant communities.
In December 2017 ICE—U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—attempted to deport 92 Somalians via charter plane. For some unknown reason other than “logistical issues,” the persons on the plane were never unloaded upon arrival. Instead, they made another 24 hour flight directly back to the United States.
The stories that were told by the Somalis to the Intercept reporters upon return were horrific. They spoke of being shackled from head to toe: wrists, waists, and legs, for nearly 48 hours; that they were not allowed to use the restroom on the plane, but instead were forced to urinate in bottles on or on themselves.
They even accused some ICE officers of beating and threatening some passengers.
ICE authorities have reportedly denied their claims.
Two weeks later, the 92 Somalis sued ICE for “inhumane conditions and egregious abuse,” and asked the courts to halt their deportation during this time.
Their complaint details even worse abuses by ICE agents.
“ICE agents wrapped some who protested, or just stood up to ask a question, in full-body restraints,” reads the complaint. “ICE agents kicked, struck, or dragged detainees down the aisle of the plane, and subjected some to verbal abuse and threats.”
The lawsuit also argues that should the Somalis return to their home country, they could be “killed or harmed due to changed circumstances in Somalia created by the media coverage and notoriety of the aborted and abusive December 7 flight.”
On top of this nightmare, Intercept reports that all of these Somalians have been separated into two deportation centers as their lawyers attempt to fight their cases — Krome Detention Center and the Glades County Detention Center in Florida.
Lisa Lehner, an attorney at Americans for Immigrant Justice, alluded that she’s seen the abuse with her own eyes. “They called them ‘niggers.’ They called them ‘boy.’ They’ve said things like, ‘We’re sending you boys back to the jungle,’” she told The Intercept.
“The guards and the administration up there at Glades, they think they’re immune. To me, it’s so brazen to be doing this,” she continued. “They know there’s a federal case. They know we’re up there all the time. They know there are investigators up there.”
Pro bono lawyers have reportedly teamed up to assist the Somalis in reopening their immigration cases. So far, an immigration court has agreed to reopen at least one of their cases. Read the full report here.