ICE Reportedly Torturing Cameroonian Asylum Seekers Into Deportation

In just the past year and a half, the Trump administration’s war on immigrants has perpetrated the following crimes against humanity:

That’s far from all.

Licensed Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) psychotherapists are violating migrant children’s trust by submitting confidential session notes to ICE, which then uses the information against the children in immigration court to deny them asylum status and deport them.

Several asylum seekers have died in CBP custody.

Two years ago we learned about refugee children in U.S. custody being injected with psychotropic drugs.

In August 2019, the Trump administration ramped up its war on immigrants when it proposed denying green cards or visas to immigrants who rely on public benefits like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Medicaid, and Section-8 housing.

Last month we learned about immigrant women detained in the private prison company LaSalle Corrections-owned Irwin County detention center in Georgia being subjected to involuntary hysterectomies.

And, of course, there is the administration’s child separation policy for which 545 migrant children’s parents cannot be located.

Amid all this, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a.k.a. Trump’s deportation force, are now being accused of torturing Cameroonian asylum seekers into signing their own stipulated orders of removal, or deportation orders in which asylum seekers waive their rights to further immigration hearings.

Many detained in a Mississippi ICE detention center refused to sign because of the threats to their lives back in Cameroon.

Detainee “Patrick” has been unable to sleep fearing ICE agents might come to deport him.

He told The Guardian:

“I live in worry because I don’t know what awaits me. I don’t even know what the next day is going to look like, and will I be taken back home.”

His lawyer, Ruth Hargrove, explained:

“He actually has a very strong case for asylum, but the problem is he may die before he gets his hearing, because he was supposed to be on that plane that went out last week [clandestine Oct. 13 flight to Douala with 60 Cameroonian and 28 Congolese asylum seekers], and his ICE officer just guaranteed that he will be on the next flight.”  

According to reports, detainees were threatened, choked, beaten, and pepper-sprayed unless they agreed to be sent back.

ICE officers also forced detainees to submit to fingerprinting in lieu of signatures.

Lawyers and human rights advocates are noting increases in deportations they attribute to the Trump administration’s realization it stands a good chance of losing the presidential election to Joe Biden.

Advocacy group Freedom for Immigrants (FFI) executive director, Christina Fialho, explained:

 “The abuse we are witnessing, especially right now against black immigrants, isn’t new, but it is escalating. In late September, early October of this year, we began to receive calls on our hotline from Cameroonian and Congolese immigrants detained in ICE prisons across the country. And they were being subjected to threats of deportation, often accompanied by physical abuse. The reality is that ICE operates in the shadows. They thrive in secrecy. We know that the US government is deporting key witnesses in an effort to silence survivors and absolve ICE of legal liability.”

FFI filed a complaint along with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) citing eight instances of forced signatures or fingerprints.

One prisoner, “BJ,” stated that last month:

“[ICE officers] pepper-sprayed me in the eyes and [one officer] strangled me almost to the point of death. I kept telling him, ‘I can’t breathe.’ I almost died. As a result of the physical violence, they were able to forcibly obtain my fingerprint on the document.”

“DF” added:

“I refused to sign. He pressed my neck into the floor. I said, ‘Please, I can’t breathe.’ I lost my blood circulation. Then they took me inside with my hands at my back where there were no cameras. They put me on my knees where they were torturing me and they said they were going to kill me. They took my arm and twisted it. They were putting their feet on my neck. While in Zulu [Adams County Detention Center], they did get my fingerprint on my deportation document and took my picture.”

“CA” said he was forced to the ground, sat on, handcuffed, and pepper-sprayed.

He reported:

“I was crying, ‘I can’t breathe,’ because they were forcefully on top of me pressing their body weight on top of me. My eyes were so hot…I was dragged across the ground. The officers told me to open my eyes. I couldn’t. My legs and hands were handcuffed. They forcefully opened my palm. Some of my fingers were broken. They forced my fingerprint on to the paper.”

Donald Trump built his campaign, and now his presidency, on those “rapists,” “murderers,” and “animals” “invading” our country from the Southern border.

He accused Haitian immigrants residing here under temporary protected status as having AIDS.

He claimed 40,000 Nigerians would never “go back to their huts” after coming here.

He accused Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador–the countries he called “shitholes“–of “arranging” the migrant caravans of “illegals” coming to get us.

Consider also asylum seekers detained in concentration camps at our Southern border being referred to as “bodies” instead of people, forced to be confined in the “Dog Pound” without adequate food, beds, shelter, toilets, medical care, or basic hygiene staples like toothbrushes and soap.

And on and on it goes.

Image credit: en.wikipedia.org

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to Op-Ed News, Liberal Nation Rising, and Zoedune.