The Congressional Black Caucus Sends Letter to ICE with House Committee on Homeland Security to Stop Deportation Flight to Cameroon:
Today, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, sent a letter to Mr. Tony H. Pham, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director, demanding that ICE stop its plans to deport over 200 Cameroonian asylum seekers today and the hundreds of others in various ICE facilities throughout the country without a thorough investigation.
Recent allegations have been raised that the Cameroonian asylum seekers were coerced into signing documents resulting in their removal. Questions about the validity of travel documents have also been raised and warrant further review. In addition to this, complaints of human rights violations have also been reported.
Last November, the Congressional Black Caucus travelled to Tijuana, Mexico to meet with the Black immigrants seeking asylum, who are often discriminated against at the U.S.-Mexico border.
On October 7, 2020, eight advocacy groups submitted a complaint to ICE, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office for Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, and the DHS Office of Inspector General detailing the accounts of eight Cameroonian asylum seekers at the Adams County Correctional Center in Natchez, Mississippi. According to the advocates who interviewed the eight detainees mentioned in the complaint, ICE and contract employees deployed pepper spray, physical restraints, and other use of force measures to obtain the signature or fingerprint of detainees on travel documents for their removal from the U.S. Advocates also stated that this is not an isolated incident and believe similar incidents to have occurred at other facilities within ICE’s New Orleans Field Office Area of Responsibility. If confirmed, these accounts would not only violate ICE’s detention standards, but also the law.
The complaint also questions the validity of travel documents obtained for the Cameroonian detainees. According to reporting, travel documents ICE obtained last month for a Cameroonian detainee were deemed invalid by the Cameroon Embassy in Washington, D.C. While it is unclear whether the travel documents for the 200 Cameroonians slated for removal are similarly affected, these are serious allegations and must be investigated thoroughly.
The Congressional Black Caucus remains committed to “Protecting the Homeland, the Motherland, and the African Diaspora.” We will continue to support the efforts of the House Homeland Security Committee, led by our CBC Member Rep. Bennie Thompson. It is imperative that the treatment of all migrants seeking asylum, including those from African and African diaspora countries is fair and just.
Stay connected with the CBC and get news directly to your inbox.