The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (Ice) has been denounced as a “rogue agency” after new allegations of assaults on asylum seekers emerged and deportations of African and Caribbean migrants continued to defy administration orders. Biden.
Joe Biden unveiled his immigration agenda on Tuesday, and his secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, was confirmed by the Senate, but continued deportations suggested that the Biden White House is not yet in full control of Ice, which he faces. multiple accusations of abuses and accusations against human rights. that has disproportionately targeted black immigrants.
A coalition of immigrant rights groups released affidavits from Cameroonian asylum seekers who they said were tortured after being forced to approve their own deportations. The asylum seekers described being forced to lie on the ground and having their fingers tattooed and pressured onto deportation documents that they had refused to sign.
An Ice plane deporting Cameroonian, Angolan, Congolese and other African immigrants is expected to leave Louisiana on Wednesday, despite an order from the incoming Biden administration for a 100-day suspension of deportation flights.
A Trump-appointed judge in Texas blocked Biden’s moratorium last week, passing a challenge from state attorney general Ken Paxton, who played a leading role in the attempt to overturn the election result.
However, the judge did not block the guidelines established by then-acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske, which went into effect on Monday and stipulated that deportations should be limited to suspected terrorists, convicted criminals considered a “threat to public safety.” , and migrants who arrived after November 1 of last year.
Ice flew a deportation flight to Haiti Tuesday morning with people who did not meet any of those criteria. One of the deportees on that flight was Paul Pierrilus, a 40-year-old financial consultant from New York state who had never been to Haiti and is not a Haitian citizen, according to the newspaper. country’s ambassador to Washington. Ambassador Bocchit Edmond told activists that the deportation caught him by surprise, but did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Pierrilus was taken off a deportation flight on January 19 at the last minute after the intervention of his local congressman, Mondaire Jones. But despite that temporary respite, he was taken to an Ice airfield in Alexandria, Louisiana, early Tuesday and put on a plane to Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti.
“There was nothing we could do to stop him,” said Jones, the Democratic representative from New York’s 17th district. Unfortunately, Paul’s story is not uncommon. Black immigrants have been disproportionately targeted and deported by our racist and inhuman immigration system, particularly in recent weeks. “
Jones said: “Ice is a rogue agency. With the help of right-wing operatives at the federal bank, Ice is choosing to ignore President Biden’s moratorium on deportation. We have to put a stop to the ice. “
There was no response from the National Security Council to questions about any further attempts to stop Ice’s flights. The state department referred inquiries to the department of homeland security (DHS). DHS did not respond.
On Monday, a coalition of migrant rights groups, Freedom for Immigration, Al Otro Lado and Advocates for Immigration Rights, presented new allegations to DHS of what they described as torture of asylum seekers from Cameroon.
One of them, identified by the initials HT, described being taken to a room with darkened windows on January 14 at the Winn correctional facility, where Ice agents forced him to put his fingerprint on a document instead of a signature, waiving your rights to further legal process prior to deportation.
“I tried to get up because of the force they were using on me and they tripped me,” HT said. “I fell to the ground; I kept my hands under my body. I squeezed my hands at the waist so they couldn’t hold them. Five of the ice officers and one of the green officers … joined them. They pressed me and said I had to give them my finger for the fingerprint. “
HT’s statement continued: “While one was pressing on my neck with his hands, the other came in front of me, pulling my head from above, straightening my neck so that they could easily suppress me. One got on my back. He had a lot of trouble breathing. This happened for more than two minutes. He was gasping for air. I said, ‘Please, I can’t breathe. I asked them to release me. They said they didn’t care; what they need is my fingerprint. “
A spokesman for Ice said it would not be possible to respond to the allegations late Tuesday. The agency was previously accused of using torture to force prisoners to sign deportation waivers in October.
Most, if not all, Cameroonians on Wednesday’s scheduled flight are English-speakers from the west and south of the country, who fear imprisonment, torture or death upon their return amid a brutal civil conflict between the government and separatists. Anglophones.
Martha, sister of one of the Cameroonian deportees, identified only as NF for security reasons, said they were the only surviving members of her family, after her brothers were killed by government security forces for being members of an organization. non-violent. , the National Council of South Cameroon.
“He’s definitely going to be incarcerated for a long time. I have not come home to be able to bribe his departure, which is the only way out, ”said Martha, who arrived in the United States before her brother and was granted asylum.
“That’s why I’m really shaking right now, because I don’t know what’s going to happen when they put him in jail. There were people who went to the first [Ice deportation] fled in October and are still in jail. “
Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen said Tuesday: “Ice is expediting the pending flights for many of these asylum seekers who escaped torture and death in their home countries, only to be returned to imminent danger without fair consideration. or complete your asylum applications. “
He added: “This is unacceptable and goes against our values as a nation. Ice must stop these flights immediately. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism