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Somalis Alleging Abuses by ICE Personnel Seek More Time in US



Judge Darrin P. Gayles

Plaintiffs attorneys argue it would be dangerous for the 92 detainees to return to Somalia, particularly after widespread press coverage of the December flight that led to a lawsuit against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. An October bombing killed more than 300 people in Mogadishu, and Al-Shabaab militants are waiting to target the “Westernized” plaintiffs, attorney Lee Gelernt argued.

“It became impossible for these individuals to go back and go undercover,” Gelernt, deputy director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, told U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles at Monday’s hearing.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Dexter Lee argues there is no constitutionally protected right in the Eleventh Circuit for the Somalis to stay in the country while their removal orders are reviewed. The motions to reopen that the plaintiffs want to file in immigration court are “disfavored” in the same way as a motion for rehearing or for a new trial, he said.

“Each of them had their day in court. … Each one of these orders is administratively final,” Lee said.

The hearing came after the detainees sued ICE on Dec. 18, alleging officials “kicked, struck, choked and dragged” them during a two-day deportation flight that was stopped in Senegal and forced to turn back to the U.S. Gayles previously stayed the deportation on Dec. 21 and ordered the government to provide adequate medical treatment for the detainees.

Gelernt asked the judge only to accept jurisdiction, following the example of Boston and Detroit courts which found that, under the U.S. Constitution’s suspension clause, “changed circumstances” allowed for delayed deportation pending motions to reopen immigration cases.

He said the attorneys would need 30 days after the government provides immigration files for the detainees to file motions to reopen their cases. On top of terrorist threats, if the detainees are sent to Somalia, Gelernt argued they will have trouble finding attorneys and getting information from the U.S. government.

When Gayles asked if the government agreed the 92 Somalis risked serious injury or death if they were returned to Somalia immediately, Lee said the U.S. does not concede that. Only seven of the 92 detainees are named in the lawsuit they filed, and the other 85 would be tough to track down, Lee said.

Gelernt said Lee was speculating. Expert affidavits said the plaintiffs would face imminent danger if they were sent to Somalia.

Gayles did not rule from the bench, saying he would need until Jan. 22 to issue a written order. But he said in this case, removing the Somalis from the United States without giving them a chance to have their immigration cases reviewed “seems problematic.”

It’s hard to dispute the Somalis’ case is receiving media attention, Gayles said, drawing chuckles from spectators when he said he receives email alerts from Google whenever his name is mentioned in a news story.

“I’ve been getting consistent Google alerts for this case alone from international media,” he said.

The Somalis were also represented at the hearing by Rebecca Sharpless, director of the University of Miami School of Law’s Immigration Clinic; Lisa Lehner of Americans for Immigrant Justice in Miami and Andrea Montavon-McKillip of Legal Aid Service of Broward County in Plantation, Florida.

Sharpless said the plaintiffs attorneys are separately challenging the adequacy of the detainees’ medical care. She said she would file an administrative complaint Monday against the Glades County Detention Center in Moore Haven, Florida.


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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