MOGADISHU, SOMALIA — Somali officials say the United States has deported 84 Somalis, including four women, back to their home country.
Two planes carrying the Somalis arrived at Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport on Friday.
A spokesman for Somalia’s Security Ministry, Abdulaziz Ali Ibrahim, told VOA’s Somali service the deportees had “been taken to the headquarters of the Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency for further questioning.”
He said the detainees would be released after the security agencies complete their questions and paperwork. It was not clear whether all the deportees would be freed.
Ibrahim said if the returnees wanted to stay in Mogadishu, they would be able to do so, and if they wanted to return to other parts of Somalia, the government would help them with their travels.
Ibrahim did not say why the Somalis were deported, but U.S. and Somali officials have previously said that Somalis returned from the United States either had their asylum applications rejected or committed crimes.
Around 275 Somalis were deported from the United States last year.
A Somali who was deported in May last year, Samir Abdirahman Arab, told VOA’s Somali service that he was deported because his asylum case failed after he entered the country through Mexico.
“The judge ordered our deportation and has issued the removal order,” he said.
“The Trump Administration put a great deal of pressure on Somalia to start accepting deportees,” Hunter, who has two clients who were due for deportation, said. “And as with so many actions by the current government, this has generated a lot of confusion and fear.”
Deportation of Somalis have increased under president Trump
Trump’s reversal of long-standing immigration policies was bound to impact the Somalis, one of the largest African immigrant communities in the US. Over the last few years, Somalis in the US have become the microcosm of the debate surrounding immigration, refugee resettlement, and national security. In 2016, a federal jury found three men guilty of plotting to join the terror group ISIL overseas. This made the community vulnerable to surveillance; at one point, the Federal Bureau of Investigation directed its agents to use a community outreach program for spying.
During the presidential elections, Trump also singled out Somalis multiple times, accusing them of coming from “dangerous territories,” fraying social nets, and blamed faulty vetting processes for allowing a large number of Somalis to come to states like Minnesota, Maine, and Ohio.
Sources: Harun Maruf I VOA I The Atlas I Quartz Africa I Michael Onas – Editor