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ICE is Deporting Mauritanians Back to Modern-Day Slavery

  • Published on
    August 27, 2018
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Domestic Slavery, Forced Labor, Law & Policy
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The West African nation of Mauritania has tens of thousands of citizens trapped chattel slavery, with darker-skinned Mauritanians being treated as the property of their lighter-skinned Arab and Berber countrymen.

It is for this reason that undocumented black Mauritanians were rarely deported from the United States in the past — sending them back would have meant sending them into modern slavery.

However, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has deported dozens of Mauritanians under the Trump administration. Many of these deportees had lived in the United States for years, during which they were only required to check in with ICE periodically.

The Washington Post reports:

The deportees in question are black Mauritanians, who are ethnically distinct, and speak a different language from the majority Arab and Berber tribes that form the country’s majority and its slaveholding merchant class. They have suffered brutal discrimination as well as enslavement for decades.

More recently, the government stripped them of citizenship, meaning that black Mauritanians living overseas, including in the United States, are stateless.

Mauritania doesn’t want them, and many of them left under threat of violence from the authorities. Heedless of that, and the grim fate that awaits them if they return, ICE is arresting and deporting them anyway. That is unconscionable.

After deporting just 18 Mauritanians in the two years ending in October 2017, ICE has removed 79 since then; 33 of them had been convicted of a criminal offense. Another 41 are in ICE detention, according to the agency.

ICE’s arrests and deportations are facilitated by the Trump administration’s pressure on the Mauritanian government to authorize travel documents to receive deported black Mauritanians. The move sent a chill through the United States’ largest community of Mauritanians in Columbus, Ohio.

Between 40,000 and 90,000 people are believed to be held in Mauritanian households in a hereditary slavery system, passed from generation to generation. Anti-slavery activists in the country, including Biram Dah Abeid, have regularly been harassed and arrested by the authorities.

As the editorial board of the Washington Post argue, the reality and severity of modern slavery in Mauritania, “provides an obvious reason for the administration to use its discretion and spare unauthorized Mauritanians who have lived productive lives in the United States from the possibility of a horrific fate.”

“But discretion and common sense have not been the hallmarks of this administration’s immigration policy. The result, in this and other cases, is tragedy and suffering.”


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5 years ago
Reply to  Krystyna Krupa

You people are ridiculous. Are any of you idiots seriously going to tell me that if you and your family weren’t facing the possibility of imminent slavery/torture/death you would wouldn’t do whatever was necessary to get away? Trying to go the legal route is a hit-and-miss proposition and none of you have any idea how many of these people TRIED to go the legal route first and were denied for some reason. And no, if they were denied, it’s not necessarily because they were violent felons.

Janet Patel
Janet Patel
5 years ago
Reply to  Krystyna Krupa

How can they be illegal if they have had authorisation in the past. Have held jobs which have contributed yo Americas prosperity. Irrespective of my surname I am white and English. Your president is a hypocrite wanting to send non Americans back to their country of origin. Would he send his grandparents back to Germany if they were still alive. I doubt it. One rule for Trump. One rule for everyone else.

genie ogden
genie ogden
5 years ago
Reply to  Krystyna Krupa

Trump doesn’t care about anyone but himself. He’s a racist. He was forced by a lawsuit to allow minorities in his housing, so he got out of middle and low income housing and just built high rises for the rich. As president, he has referred to African countries as sh*thole countries. That’s disgusting. He started the birther movement against Obama. Most murderers and rapists are white, just like almost all mass shooters.

5 years ago
Reply to  Coreen Kerr

I think what really gets me is how many Trump supporters talk about illegal immigrants with almost religious fervor. Reminds me of old-time preachers shouting about the wages of sin from the pulpit. You’d think that they’d be more concerned & angry about Trump & his cronies wanting to cut millions from Medicaid, Medicare & Social Security, since that would have a much more profound negative impact on them & family members, but they keep gong for the straw man. Easily led sheep.

5 years ago
Reply to  Krystyna Krupa

Check your stats. 1st- what do you mean by “take in immigrants”? Work/education visas? asylum? I am going to have to decide you are talking about refugees since you haven’t specified. 2016 UN stats show:
Turkey -2,869,421
Pakistan -1,352,560
Lebanon -1,012,969
Iran -979,435
Germany -669,482
Jordan -685,197
Russian Federation -228,990
US -272,959

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