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.
Volunteers are needed on the ground in Miami and around the United States. Sign up here to learn more about how you can volunteer as an attorney, law student, or Somali interpreter or translator.
The pro bono initiative is a collaborative of The Advocates for Human Rights, Americans for Immigrant Justice, and Innovation Law Lab.
Watch Prof. Becky Sharpless's Pro Tips
Visiting Detention Centers and Interviewing
Preparing the Motion to Reopen
Filling Out the I-589 Application
Criminal Records and Withholding vs. CAT
Download basic practice materials
AHR Pro Bono Asylum Manual
AHR Annotated I-589
Order Granting Jurisdiction (Jan. 26, 2018)
Order Staying Removal (Dec. 19, 2017)
Complaint (Dec. 18, 2017)
Motion for Class Certification (Dec. 18, 2017)
Read complaints filed with the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General and Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Congressional calls for accountability
Letter from Senator Amy Klobuchar
Letter from Senator Tina Smith
Letter from Congressman Keith Ellison
The Advocates for Human Rights
330 Second Avenue South, Suite 800
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Immigrant Client Line: 612-341-9845