Somali 92 Deportation Challenge

On December 7, 2017, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attempted to deport 92 men and women to Somalia. The plane departed Louisiana for Somalia, but was grounded in Senegal where it remained on the runway for 23 hours before returning to Miami. For almost two days, the men and women sat bound and shackled in an ICE-chartered airplane.

People aboard the flight report truly horrifying conditions. Even more alarming, ICE made false statements to the U.S. news media about the treatment of the people aboard the flight and attempted to deport them before any investigation into the mistreatment could be made.

Immigration clinics at the University of Minnesota Law School and University of Miami School of Law, together with Miami-based and Minnesota-based legal service providers and the ACLU, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Miami asking the court to stop the deportation, provide medical care, and provide an opportunity to reopen the underlying deportation cases. The court granted a TRO in Ibrahim et al. v. Acosta et al., Case No. 17-24574-CIV-GAYLES in the Southern District of Florida.

The Need for Pro Bono

The people aboard the failed deportation flight face persecution and torture if they return to Somalia due to precipitously deteriorating conditions in Somalia throughout the final months of 2017. None of the people aboard the flight has had an opportunity to present their claims for protection – many were ordered deported months or even years before this recent change in conditions. Without access to pro bono counsel, few of these individuals will have access to a fair day in court. Local legal services have been overwhelmed and simply cannot prepare and file the motions needed in these cases.

Pro bono attorneys can help. Volunteers are needed on the ground in Miami to interview clients detained in ICE custody so that applications for asylum can be prepared. Remote volunteers are needed to draft pleadings and assemble evidence needed for the motions to reopen. If reopening is granted, volunteers will be needed to represent clients in their removal proceedings.

Contact Theresa Dykoschak with questions.