• Lynn Tramonte

Columbus Underground: “Ohio Resident Faces Deportation to Country that Once Enslaved Him"

Columbus, OH - This weekend, Columbus Underground published an article from Lauren Sega about the deportation of long-term Ohio residents to Mauritania, a country where they face slavery, torture and other abuses.

Deportations to this nation were mostly non-existent under previous Administrations, because Mauritania’s horrible human rights record meant that it was unsafe for these men and women to be sent back there. Sega writes: “The U.S. has deported more than 80 Mauritanians in 2018, up from 10 in 2016 and eight in 2017. Many have been from Ohio, where thousands of Mauritanians settled in the 1990s after leaving New York for more factory jobs and lower housing costs.”

“Mauritania’s lack of commitment to human rights has not changed, but the U.S. administration has,” said Lynn Tramonte, Director of Ohio Immigrant Alliance. “Now, the U.S. is aggressively deporting people who have lived in Columbus and Cincinnati for decades, despite all the risks--and despite the devastating impact on them and their families. Even the Trump administration’s own CIA, State Department, and Trade Representative have criticized Mauritania for its abuse of human rights and free speech. Yet, the U.S. deportation machine continues.”

Last month, Issa Sao’s deportation from Cincinnati made national headlines. Now, Columbus Underground interviews the eldest daughter of yet another long-term Ohio resident facing deportation, Amadou Sow, as well attorneys Alexandria Lubans-Otto and Julie Nemecek:

Should Sow return [to Mauritania], he’ll likely face immediate incarceration, and “the conditions are awful,” says Nemecek.
“When they’re in jail, they’re beaten,” she continues, “they’re in a room with 70 other people, forced to urinate in water bottles.”

The article concludes:

If his emergency stay is not granted Sow can be deported at any time, likely before anything comes of his reopened asylum case. Awa says she and her family are just waiting to hear back and are hoping for an emergency stay. She’s been able to speak with her father over the phone a few times.
“He always says he’s fine, and he always asks about us, how we’re doing or how school is going,” Awa says. “I try to keep him up on the whole [legal] situation.” ….
“I don’t believe that my father should be treated as a common criminal, but like anyone else in this situation my hands are tied,” says Awa. “The extent of my ability to do more is based on how much influence I have and how much support he has.”

For more information on deportations to Mauritania and the modern-day human rights crisis unfolding there, see this outline of recent events from the Ohio Immigrant Alliance, as well as this short overview from America’s Voice.

Black Mauritanians in the U.S. are able to fight their cases with the help of high-quality lawyers, but they need more help. Please donate to the Black Mauritanian Deportation Defense Fund, and share the link widely.

Follow the Ohio Immigrant Alliance on Twitter @tramontela


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