Attorneys seek investigation into treatment of Somali deportees on recent flight

Published 10:24 am Saturday, December 30, 2017

By Riham Feshir

MPR News/90.1 FM

Attorneys representing the 92 Somalis who were on a recent deportation flight have asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to launch an internal investigation into the treatment of the men and women aboard.

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The lawyers allege serious violations of Homeland Security policy regarding use of force and shackling during the flight that landed in the West African country of Senegal and sat on the runway for more than 20 hours.

The administrative complaint addresses U.S. Department of Homeland Security Acting Inspector General John Kelly and Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Cameron Quinn, and includes sworn statements by seven of the men on the flight.

According to the document, immigration officers shackled, punched, choked and kicked the deportees. The document says the deportees were denied access to the restroom and were physically and verbally abused for the duration of the two-day trip.

The flight, with Minnesota residents aboard, ended up returning to the United States. The deportees remain in two Florida detention centers.

The document alleges officers attempted to avoid an investigation by trying to deport the men and women again about two weeks later. It also adds that ICE attempted to cover up what happened by providing false statements to the press saying no one was injured.

In a statement, ICE spokesperson Brendan Raedy said the allegations of mistreatment are categorically false. He maintains that no one was injured during the flight. “There were no incidents or altercations that would have caused any injuries on the flight,” he said.

He said there have been no medical claims made to ICE officials at the detention center in Miami.

A federal judge in Florida has blocked the deportation order “pending the Court’s jurisdictional determination.”