Somalis shackled in ‘slave ship’ conditions without food or water during two-day deportation flight
Young Somali girl via Shutterstock

Ninety-two Somali immigrants are calling out the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after they claim their deportation was like something off of a "slave ship" in the 1700s.


A PRI report even detailed that the United States isn't disputing that the two immigrants were shackled at the hands and feet aboard a plane for two days.

They left Louisiana on Dec. 7 en route to Mogadishu, Somalia, but never arrived. The chartered flight landed in Dakar, Senegal, then returned back to the United States without going to Somalia. It's not clear why. They were denied food and water and weren't allowed to use the bathroom.

The immigrants are now being held in a detention facility outside of Miami and are meeting with lawyers on what happened.

“One of my colleagues characterized them as slave ship conditions,” attorney Kimberly Hunter explained. She represents two of the people on the flight. “ICE disputes accounts about lack of adequate food, water and restrooms — although those inadequacies are consistent with reports that we've had from our clients."

ICE claimed that the flight had to be returned because the "relief flight crew was unable to get sufficient rest," PRI reported.

"So they were held on the tarmac to allow the crew to rest and subsequently, due to ‘logistical concerns,’ returned to the U.S.,” Hunter explained. She thinks, however, it was another reason.

“Somali media report that, due to protests taking place in Mogadishu pertaining to the Jerusalem decision by [President Donald Trump's] administration, the security situation just became completely untenable as far as allowing that flight to land,” she continued.

She expects ICE to send the 92 Somalis to Mogadishu again soon, despite some who have grounds to appeal the deportation.

“I think it's reflective of the Trump administration’s overall crackdown on immigration as well as reflective of their attitude towards Somalia and towards Muslims,” she told PRI.

Abdoulmalik Ibrahim for example, could be allowed to return to the U.S. because his wife is is a U.S. Citizen and can file a petition for him.

“But he's got no way to actually return now or in the near future, with the fact that the Somali travel ban has recently been allowed to continue,” the attorney explained.