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BREAKING: BIA Grants Temporary Emergency Stays of Deportation for Two Mauritanians from OH, Detained in AZ

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This afternoon Yolanda Rondon with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and Julie Nemecek, a Columbus immigration lawyer, filed emergency stays with the Board of Immigration Appeals to halt the deportation of Ousmane Sy and Abou Diallo, two Ohio men currently detained in Arizona.  ICE had planned to deport Sy and Diallo on a charter flight tomorrow.  Counsel just learned that the temporary deportation stays have been granted by the BIA.  

The news comes after both Amnesty International USA and the editorial board of the Columbus Dispatch called on the Trump Administration to stop deporting Mauritanians at high risk of becoming slaves, earlier today.  

Black Mauritanians are being deported to a country that doesn’t even consider them to be citizens and has the highest rate of slavery worldwide, according to the Trump Administration’s own CIA World Handbook from 2018.

And Newsweek is out with a new piece showing how dramatically the Trump Administration has changed Mauritanian deportation policy.  After deporting just four Mauritanians in FY 2015, the government deported 79 Mauritanians already this year.

The Newsweek article points out that “In March 2018, an investigation by the rights organization [Amnesty International USA] found that slavery and racial discrimination remained ‘rife’ in Mauritania, despite the formal abolition of slavery in 1981, as well as its criminalization in 2007 and elevation to a crime against humanity in 2012.”

The emergency stays only affect the cases of Ousmane Sy and Abou Diallo, and they are only temporary–until the motions to reopen their prior deportation cases are considered.  A photo of Ousmane Sy is available here and Abou Diallo here.   

The problem is urgent.  Not only have 79 people already been deported to a place where their freedom is in danger this year, but dozens more are detained in Ohio alone, and hundreds could be in line for deportation.  

Yolanda Rondon, Senior Staff Attorney with American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said: “We oppose the mass deportation and anti-immigrant agenda by this Administration. We have an obligation to protect all persons who will face harm, mistreatment, persecution or torture if returned to their home country. The administrations removal of persons to Mauritania under temporary travel documents must stop, especially persons of ethnic minority groups. These individuals are at heightened risk for harm because they do not have official citizenship, and the necessary rights and protections that come with citizenship.”

Julie Nemecek, a Columbus immigration lawyer who has helped bring the Mauritanian crisis to light said: “The evidence here is solid; now, it’s time for ICE to follow the law. The deportation of these two men and other Mauritanians facing removal would result in a clear violation of the law.  I had the opportunity to speak with both Ousmane Sy and Abou Diallo about an hour ago. Despite everything that has happened, they still love America. They are thankful to all those who have supported them. They are praying for their lives.”

UndocuBlack Network’s National Policy and Advocacy Director, Patrice Lawrence, added: “We have seen a trend in the targeting and deportation of Black immigrants, and we will not be silent.  These Mauritanians face death, imprisonment and enslavement, just for being Black. The horror that Black Mauritanians experience is well-documented but ICE doesn’t operate on facts, just what fits their racist policies. We demand that they are immediately released from ICE detention.”