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Judge extends Somali deportation ban amid abuse claims



A federal judge in Miami on Monday extended a temporary hold on the deportation of more than 90 Somalis arrested by immigration enforcement agents across the country in recent months.

U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles had already issued a temporary stay of deportation on Dec. 19 for all 92 Somalis, saying he needed time to weigh whether he has jurisdiction over the case and that they receive medical treatment for injuries sustained during a botched deportation flight.

On Monday, he granted a request from a coalition of advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and law professors at the University of Miami and University of Minnesota, to extend the order until Jan. 22, citing “good cause.”

The lawyers, who filed a class-action lawsuit in late December, contend that it’s unsafe to send their clients to Somalia based on changes in the conditions there, including a spike in violence in the country as well as the media coverage regarding the botched deportation flight on Dec. 7.

The story of the returned flight has generated a flurry of media interest, and lawyers say that could endanger the lives of their clients.

“There’s undisputed evidence that they will be targeted as coming from the West by extremist terrorist groups, including al-Shabab in Somalia,” said Rebecca Sharpless, director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law.

The flight left early Dec. 7 morning from Louisiana, but the 92 detainees never made it to Somalia. Logistical problems forced the flight back to the U.S. after it reached Senegal in West Africa, according to immigration officials.

The government has argued that since the 92 men and women “have no constitutionally protected interest in the reopening of their removal cases, they have no due process right to remain in the United States to file their motions,” according to a written court response submitted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ahead of Monday’s ruling.

Those being deported on the charter removal flights were restrained for the safety of those on board, the agency added, noting that 61 of the 92 detainees on the flight had criminal convictions, including homicide, rape, and aggravated assault.

Some of those on the flight said in a lawsuit that agents physically and verbally abused them during the flight, which lasted for 40 hours, including 23 hours when the flight was on the ground at an airport in Dakar.

As the plane sat on the runway, the 92 detainees remained bound, their handcuffs secured to their waists, and their feet shackled together for 48 hours, according to the lawsuit.

The immigration enforcement agency called the abuse allegations untrue and said no one was injured during the flight.

However, a University of Miami doctor who examined some of the men said their physical injuries match up with their accounts of abuse.

“Their stories were consistent,” Dr. Stephen Symes, an infectious disease specialist and associate dean, said in a statement on Thursday. “The extreme shackling and melee that followed, injured wrists, shoulders and ankles, necks and lower backs, as immigration officers hit, pushed, and full-body restrained some.”

On Dec. 21, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat who represents Minnesota’s 5th District, home to a large Somali-American community, called for investigations into the alleged mistreatment.


Somali teenager sets her hopes high for the future



AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – War shattered 14-year-old Manaal’s dreams for the future. Now safe in the Netherlands, with new friends, her spirits are soaring once more.

“I have only been in an airplane once and that is when we arrived here from Somalia,” says Manaal, who fled the country with her family. “In the airplane, I felt butterflies in my stomach the whole time. I saw a movie about a stewardess and she looked so pretty and smart that I decided I want to become a stewardess as well.”

Twenty-eight long years of conflict have left Somalia reeling. The peaceful canals and cafes of Amsterdam, where Manaal found safety in 2014 , have offered the youngster a refuge she could barely have imagined.

Manaal is one of 12 refugee and asylum-seeking children living in Europe who star in a new project that lets their imagination run free.

Titled The Dream Diaries, the project sees the young refugees and asylum-seekers reveal their hopes and dreams from the safety of their new homes in Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
“In the airplane, I felt butterflies in my stomach
the whole time.”

The series was produced by Humans of Amsterdam photographer Debra Barraud, her colleague Benjamin Heertje, Dutch graphic designer Annegien Schilling, filmmaker Kris Pouw and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

In it, Manaal dreams of becoming an air stewardess. A portrait shows her sitting on the wing of an airplane, soaring through a picturesque evening sky.

After 5 long years of separation from her father, who was the first to flee to Europe in a desperate bid to find a better life for his family, air travel means more to Manaal than most.

“When we arrived at the airport, I finally saw my dad again,” she tells The Dream Diaries team. “So I ran up to him and hugged him really tight.”
“When children flee their home countries, they leave everything behind, except their hopes and dreams,” says co-creator Debra Barraud, whose Humans of Amsterdam photography project has over 400,000 Facebook followers. “Through the project we saw the strength of these children and how with the right support they can achieve anything.”

Audiences are being encouraged to stand #WithRefugees by signing UNHCR’s global petition, which asks decision makers to grant refugees safety, education and opportunities – turning their dreams into reality. You can follow The Dream Diaries series via Humans of Amsterdam, Fetching Tigerss and UNHCR’s social accounts.

“My dream is to be a flight attendant,” says Manaal, who will never forget the elation of her first flight – to safety. “I want to be able to travel, see Paris and have butterflies in my stomach. I want to see the entire world.”

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Maine’s 1st Somali police officer busted at Mass. concert



LA TIMES — Maine’s first Somali police officer is on paid leave during an investigation after her arrest over the weekend in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Worcester police charged Zahra Munye Abu, of Portland, with several misdemeanors including assault and battery, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

Police say the 26-year-old caused a disturbance at a Ja Rule and Ashanti concert at the Palladium Nightclub. She was arrested Saturday night, and posted bail early Sunday.

Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck confirmed Abu’s arrest, but declined further comment.

Abu was born in a Kenyan refugee camp before coming to Maine. She graduated from the University of Southern Maine and became a police officer in 2016. The Associated Press could not locate a phone number for her, and it’s unclear if she has a lawyer.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Portland police officer whose hiring made history is put on leave after arrest in Massachusetts



PRESS HERALD — Zahra Munye Abu, the first Somali immigrant to serve on the city’s force, is charged in Worcester with five misdemeanors, including assault.

A 24-year-old Portland police officer has been charged with five misdemeanors, including assault and battery, after being arrested Saturday night at a concert venue in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Worcester police said Zahra Munye Abu, of Portland, is also facing charges of trespassing, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.

Abu caused a disturbance while attending a Ja Rule and Ashanti concert at the Palladium Nightclub on Main Street, said Worcester police Sgt. Kerry F. Hazelhurst.

“The nightclub was hosting several live musical acts,” Hazelhurst said in an email. “She was (given) several opportunities to leave and refused. Eventually she was placed under arrest.”

Worcester police would not provide more details about the incident, and members of Abu’s family declined to comment when contacted by phone at their home.

Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said Abu has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending a review of the matter.

“The Portland Police Department was notified late Saturday night of the arrest of Police Officer Zahra Abu in Worcester, Massachusetts,” Sauschuck said in an email. “This issue will be dealt with as a personnel matter from this point forward, so I will have no further comment.”

Chris Besaw, the Palladium general manager, declined to comment about the arrest or what occurred before local police became involved.

Abu was bailed out of jail at 1 a.m. Sunday, Hazelhurst said. He did not know the bail amount. She is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in Worcester District Court.

Abu is a high-profile member of the Portland police force because she is the first member of Maine’s Somali immigrant community to become a police officer in Maine.

She was born to Somali parents in a Kenyan refugee camp and has lived in Portland since she was 2 years old. She graduated from Deering High School in Portland and studied criminal justice and women-and-gender issues at the University of Southern Maine.

If convicted, Abu faces a maximum penalty of up to 2½ years in a county jail on the assault and battery and the resisting arrest charges. Each of the other charges include less severe maximum penalties.

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