In December, 92 Somalis boarded a deportation flight to Somalia at the behest of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Due to logistical reasons, the flight didn't complete its mission of returning the Somalis; instead, the deportees are now detained at the Krome Detention Center and the Glades County Detention Center in Florida, The Intercept reports.
The Somalis are speaking out and claim they were shackled for over 40 hours, forced to urinate in bottles or on themselves and were subjected to threats and physical abuse by ICE officers during the flight.
The large group of Somalis have filed a suit against ICE for the "inhumane conditions and egregious abuse" during the flight and requested that the courts halt their deportations.
But the alleged abuse doesn't stop there.
The Somalis held at the detention center claim the abuse has continued there, with physical assaults, racial slurs and repeated denials of medical care and access to their lawyers.
One of the Somalis, Khadar Ibrahim, wrote in a sworn statement that he experienced abuse on the flight and at the detention center, including a time during the flight when an ICE officer slammed him to the ground after he stood up to use the bathroom.
“The guards and the administration up there at Glades, they think they’re immune. To me, it’s so brazen to be doing this. They know there’s a federal case. They know we’re up there all the time. They know there are investigators up there,” said Americans for Immigrant Justice attorney Lisa Lehner, an attorney at Americans for Immigrant Justice. “They called them ‘n*ggers.’ They called them ‘boy.’ They’ve said things like, ‘We’re sending you boys back to the jungle.’”
Lehner's attorney group is one of the several groups representing the Somalis.
“One way that ICE, and particularly [Enforcement and Removal Operations, an ICE sub-office], achieves its goal of mass deportation is by subjecting people to indefinite detention in terrible conditions without any source of hope, or sometimes, outside contact,” said Rebecca Merton, a program coordinator at Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), who noted that this type of abuse wears down the deportees so that they are less likely to fight in court.
ICE has denied the flight mistreatment allegations, and a Miami spokesperson refused to comment on the Glades allegations, citing the pending litigation.