• Lynn Tramonte

USA Today Exposes Trump Administration Hypocrisy on Deportations of Black Mauritanians

Updated: Oct 26, 2018

US Government Actively Facilitating Modern-Day Slave Trade

Florence, AZ — ICE agents are forcing Black Mauritanians onto a small charter plane, sending them to a country where slavery is rampant today. Meanwhile, USA Today published a critical piece: “Trump increases deportations to Mauritania, where slavery still dominates culture.” Alan Gomez writes:

During a meeting in the White House last week to launch a task force designed to stop human trafficking and modern-day slavery, President Donald Trump vowed to do everything in the federal government's power to stop the ongoing scourge.
"Our country will not rest until we have put these vile organizations out of business, and rescued every last victim," Trump told the officials gathered there.

Yet this week, the Trump administration may deport four black men to Mauritania, a Muslim-majority nation in Africa that the CIA describes as a hotbed for human trafficking and modern-day slavery of its black minority residents. If the deportations are carried out, they would represent the latest in a growing number of black Mauritanians forced to return to a nation that their attorneys say could lead to imprisonment, torture, slavery or death.

It’s not as though the Administration is unaware of these facts. Writes Gomez: “Mauritania was the last nation in the world to abolish slavery in 1981, but the CIA and the State Department say the practice lives on, ensnaring a ‘significant portion’ of the country's black population.”

Publicly, the Mauritanian government is in denial that slavery exists. It is actively cracking down on anti-slavery activism, arresting Biram Dah Abeid, leader of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA-Mauritania), at his home in August. The government also arrested journalists Babacar Ndiaye and Mahmoudi Ould Saibout and IRA member Abdellahi el Housein Mesoud, in an ongoing campaign against “dissent” (what we call “freedom of speech”). Photojournalist Seif Kousmate was arrested this summer for taking pictures that prove the existence of slavery in Mauritania. He was released days later, but his photos were confiscated.

Just last week, the Mauritanian government violently attacked protestors who were peacefully demanding the release of Biram Dah Abeid outside of the Mauritanian National Assembly. WARNING: graphic images contained here.

Individuals deported from the United States this year have been arrested and tortured by the Mauritanian government, until they were able to escape by paying a bribe. They are considered dissenters for having fled Mauritania and sought safety in the United States. They are also stateless--undocumented in their own country--yet another arrestable “offense” in Mauritania.

These facts makes the U.S. government’s take, articulated in Gomez’ article, all the more chilling:

In a series of deportation orders issued against four Mauritanians this summer by ICE agents in Michigan, the agency wrote that it had considered the "humanitarian concerns" raised by attorneys but decided that "pursuing the ordered removal is the proper enforcement action in this case and consistent with the core mission" of ICE.

Human rights activists say that cold analysis ignores the fact that the U.S. government could be facilitating the slave trade by deporting people to Mauritania, a decision that could cost them their freedom or their lives.

In August, Adotei Akwei of Amnesty International USA said the continued deportations show "disdain for their human dignity and basic human rights and a complete violation of international law that flies in the face of decades of US traditions."

During a conference call with reporters last week Ibrahima Sow, a community leader with the Ohio New African Immigrants Commission and a former candidate for the Columbus City Council, said: “The American government, through ICE, contributes to the 21st century slave trade by deporting people that have contributed to the success of the American economy to an active and known slave state.” Sow is the son of a Mauritanian refugee.

On the same call, Patrice Lawrence, Policy Director with UndocuBlack Network, said: “We are very concerned that decades-long agreement, discretion, leniency and respect for Black Mauritanians are being hijacked by ICE. Black Mauritanians have a well founded, credible fear of being returned to a country that does not value their lives or accept them as part of that State, and will actively enslave, torture and kill them. With ICE kidnapping, detaining and deporting Black Mauritanians across the United States, lives are being disrupted and families are being destroyed in the name of Trump's anti-immigrant agenda. Several members of Congress, advocates and humans rights activists are in agreement with the Black Mauritanian community--this trend in detention and deportations must be remedied and end now!”

Resources:

  • Backgrounder: Deportations to Mauritania: What You Need to Know

  • USA Today: “Trump increases deportations to Mauritania, where slavery still dominates culture”

  • The Atlantic: “How Trump Radicalized ICE”

  • The Washington Post (Editorial): “ICE is sending Mauritanians back to modern-day slavery”

  • National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (op-ed): “No person deserves enslavement”

  • Cincinnati Enquirer: “Does slavery await father of 5 from Lockland fighting deportation back to Mauritania?”

  • Reveal News (Center for Investigative Reporting): “A Mauritanian man escaped his country’s ethnic cleansing. ICE deported him anyway”

Ohio Immigrant Alliance is the new name of America’s Voice Ohio - @tramontela

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