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Donald Trump has made it clear that he’s pursuing a white nationalist policy that is aimed at reshaping American demographics for decades to come. We’ve seen this in the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants who have been living in the US for decades and raising families without causing trouble. And we’re about to see it in a mass Somali deportation of more than 4,000 asylum seekers and refugees. Trump is looking for ways to make America less diverse, and doesn’t care how many lives he upends or families he separates to do it.
Somalis have been migrating to the US and other countries since 1991, when the government collapsed and a civil war broke out. Today, more than 1.1 million Somalis are displaced internationally, with some 76,000 living in the US. Currently, there is a severe drought which has caused famine, disease, and starvation, as well as the threat of Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group that has been committing suicide bombings and mass killings. The US has previously recognized that Somalia is a dangerous country and that Somalis should not be deported by designating refugees with Temporary Protected Status, which has been extended through September 2018.
But that’s not stopping the Trump Administration, which once called Somali resettlement in Minnesota a “disaster” and implied that the refugees are dangerous. Somalia is one of the country’s on Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, even though no one from there (as is true with the rest of the ban countries) has ever fatally harmed an American. With this upcoming mass Somali deportation, Trump is poised to remove thousands of individuals, impacting families and communities and putting people who should be protected in danger, just because he believes that people from brown countries are bad.
More than 4,000 Somalis have been earmarked for deportation by the Trump Administration, and in recent weeks 388 have been rounded up and detained. A raid in Georgia made headlines when ICE arrested eight Somalis. And in January, some 100 Somalis were removed on the same plane – half the number that was deported in the entire 2016 fiscal year (198).
The arrests and pending deportations have made the community fearful. As Glory Kilanko, director and CEO of Women Watch Afrika, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Everybody is feeling insecure. People are beginning to hide and be afraid of law enforcement. They are saying they feel terrorized by ICE’s presence.”
Some Somali youth have lived in the US for so long that they don’t know Somalia at all – and don’t even speak the language. And advocates stress that the country is a dangerous place to forcibly removing people to: “Right now there’s a huge famine and that’s why no one should be sent back to Somalia at this time, at this moment,” said Omar Shekey, Executive Director of the Somali American Community Center in Clarkston, Georgia. “Most of the people who will be sent to Somalia will most likely be killed.”