“Past administrations generally avoided deporting people to Mauritania, but the Trump administration upended that status quo by targeting Mauritanians who’d been allowed to live and work in the US for decades, even when they had deportation orders,” Mother Jones continued. “ICE deported 25 people to Mauritania last fiscal year, down from 98 two years before. There is usually no way for the people ICE deports, including Mauritanians, to return to the United States in the near future.”
One man who was also set to be deported that Tuesday was Paul Pierrilus, a New Yorker born in the Caribbean island Saint Martin and who ICE was going to send to Haiti even though he’d never stepped foot there before in his life. His family said he’d been swept up during what he thought was a routine immigration appointment. “My brother has never even been to Haiti,” sister Neomie told The Guardian. “He has the bare minimum of the language, he doesn’t know the culture, he doesn’t know anyone there. So my brother cannot go there.”
Mother Jones reports that ICE halted Pierrilus’ deportation “[f]ollowing pressure from advocates and newly-elected Rep. Mondaire Jones.” While apparently now protected from deportation by that pressure and Biden’s moratorium, he’s still languishing in ICE’s custody. Stopping these unjust and cruel deportations is one major step, but getting people out of abusive immigration detention conditions—especially if you’re a Black immigrant—must be another.
Recall that just this past fall, a civil rights complaint from leading advocacy groups said ICE agents and private prison officers tortured a number of Black immigrants to coerce them into signing their own deportation orders. ”The complaint describes the coercive tactics, including threats of violence and direct physical abuse to obtain submission, forced taking of fingerprints while individuals are in restraint, and the use of pepper spray against those who decline to sign their deportation papers,” the groups said in the complaint. ICE subsequently attempted to deport some of those men.
National Immigrant Justice Center Director of Policy Heidi Altman said in a statement received by Daily Kos that the organization “is eager to work with the Biden administration to ensure that the promise offered by the deportation moratorium is realized.”
“In order for that to happen,” she continued, “DHS must quickly and dramatically reduce the number of people in ICE detention and immediately begin developing a process to end the use of detention entirely and terminate ICE contracts with county jails and private prisons, starting with the facilities with the worst track records of abuse and corruption. Nearly 15,000 people’s lives are now in the administration’s hands, in dangerous ICE detention centers and at risk during a pandemic.” We must do better, and that time starts right now.