ICE officers accused of torturing African detainees

ICE allegedly used violent tactics to force asylum seekers to sign their own deportation orders

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers are being accused of using violence and threats to make African immigrants sign their own deportation orders.

These claims come from Cameroonian asylum seekers, according to The Guardian. They allege that they were choked, beaten, pepper-sprayed, and threatened with more violence to make them sign.

ICE Agents Detain Suspected Undocumented Immigrants In Raids
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), agents detain an immigrant on October 14, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

According to the outlet, lawyers believe the efforts are being made in an attempt to fly African migrants to their home countries before the election this November.

Read More: Legal team says they can’t find parents of 545 migrant children separated at border

Multiple accounts claim Cameroonian migrants at the Adams County Correctional Centre in Mississippi refused to sign deportation agreements due to a fear of the Cameroonian government and upcoming asylum hearings, according to the report.

The detainees were then faced with violent threats and several were handcuffed by ICE officers and their fingerprints were forcibly taken in place of a signature.

According to The Guardian, a complaint filed by FFI and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) cites eight cases of forced signatures or fingerprints on stipulated orders of removal. A victim referred to by the initials BJ said they were almost killed by one of the agents.

They described their experience saying “[an officer] pepper-sprayed me in the eyes and strangled me almost to the point of death. I kept telling him, ‘I can’t breathe.’ I almost died,” the news outlet reported.

“As a result of the physical violence, they were able to forcibly obtain my fingerprint on the document,” BJ said according to The Guardian.

Another person, acknowledged as DF described a similar fight. “I refused to sign. He pressed my neck into the floor. I said, ‘Please, I can’t breathe.’ I lost my blood circulation. Then they took me inside with my hands at my back where there were no cameras,” DF said according to the report.

“They put me on my knees where they were torturing me and they said they were going to kill me. They took my arm and twisted it. They were putting their feet on my neck. While in Zulu, they did get my fingerprint on my deportation document and took my picture,” said DF.

Read More: ICE guards sexually assaulted immigrants, complaints claims

On October 13, a flight to take detainees to Cameroon was stopped and two Cameroonians were removed. According to The Guardian, DF was on the flight and not one of those taken off and the outlet is not aware of his next steps. Another person, CA who was taken from the aircraft said he was forced to the ground, sat on, handcuffed and pepper-sprayed while handcuffed as ICE forcibly took his fingerprint.

The report said the plane held 60 Cameroonian and 28 Congolese asylum seekers, and most of the deportees had testified that they had suffered detention at the hands of the Cameroonian military. Upon landing, some were freed after their families paid bribes, and have gone into hiding, while others are off the radar, according to The Guardian.

“We have no knowledge of what happened to those that were deported. We know they arrived, but we haven’t heard what happened after they arrived at the airport,” said lawyer Evaristus Nkongchu to the outlet.

According to The Guardian, lawyers and human-rights advocates have seen a rapid rise in deportations in recent weeks.

“The abuse we are witnessing, especially right now against Black immigrants, isn’t new, but it is escalating,” said Christina Fialho to The Gaurdian. She works as the executive director of an advocacy group, Freedom for Immigrants (FFI).

She continued, “In late September, early October of this year, we began to receive calls on our hotline from Cameroonian and Congolese immigrants detained in Ice prisons across the country. And they were being subjected to threats of deportation, often accompanied by physical abuse.”

Fialho said the actions are an attempt to silence the migrant stories of torture and avoid taking responsibility, she told The Guardian.

“We know that the US government is deporting key witnesses in an effort to silence survivors and absolve Ice of legal liability.”

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