As the immigration crisis continues, four Black men are facing deportation to Mauritania, where modern-day slavery thrives. According to Newsweek, the CIA has found the African nation has the world's highest rate of slavery with almost 20 percent of the population in bondage.
Abraham Sy told WCPO he doesn't understand why his brother-in-law, Amandou Sow, is up for deportation.
"Everybody here, they work hard and pay taxes," Sy said. "He takes care of his family, and they come here, grab him [for] no reason," he said of his brother-in-law.
As USA TODAY reports, Trump vowed to launch a task force to end human trafficking and modern-day slavery during a White House meeting last week. His deportation actions are contradictory to said vow, however. In fact, his administration has seen increase in deportations toMauritania compared to the Obama administration, deporting 83 people to the country in 2018, compared to five in 2015.
"It makes me angry, but this is their level of governance: photo ops and saying they're doing things, saying that they care, and then doing the exact opposite," said Lynn Tramonte, director of the Ohio Immigrant Alliance. A large part of the Mauritanian diaspora lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. "It's not surprising, but it's frustrating."
A group of senators wrote to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last Friday, requesting they halt the deportation process, citing the dangers deportees could face should they head back to Mauritania.
“Most Mauritanians in the United States arrived here seeking refuge from government-led racial and ethnic persecution and extreme violence,” several lawmakers, including Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), wrote in a letter according to Black Press USA. “For the following two decades our government declined to deport Mauritanians because of the dangerous and potentially life-threatening conditions they would face if they were returned to their country of origin.”
Slavery has been criminalized in Mauritania for only 11 years. As was the case in the United States, slavery in the African nation is race-based, with members of the darker skinned Haratine minority suffering bondage at the hands of members of the lighter skinned Beydan community. Beydan people comprise 30 percent of the country's population but have an outsized influence on politics; the president, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, is Beydan.
“The government turns a blind eye because traditionally they are the affluent ethnic group who owned slaves," Jakub Sobik, a spokesperson for Anti-Slavery International, said. "They have run the country and still do.”
The Trump administration has yet to respond to calls for it to end deportations to Mauritania.
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