Mukhtar M. Ibrahim Wednesday January 10, 2018
lawyers have filed a complaint against a Florida detention center,
alleging guards pepper-sprayed, shackled and used excessive force on
Somali detainees and called them racial slurs, including the N-word.
the early morning of Dec. 9, immigration enforcement agents transported
92 Somalis — including some Minnesota residents — to two centers in
Florida. At least 42 of them were taken to Glades Detention Center in
The detainees were sent out of the country
on Dec. 7, bound for their native Somalia but never made it. Logistical
problems forced the flight to return to the United States after a brief
stop in the West African country of Senegal, according to immigration
law enforcement agents.
Lawyers, who filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the Somali detainees, allege that federal immigration agents physically and verbally abused detainees during that time.
On Monday, a federal judge in Miami extended a temporary hold on the deportation
of these 92 men and women who were arrested by U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement agents across the country in recent months.
Workers at Glades, which has a contract with the federal immigration
agency, "have subjected our clients to abuse, both verbal and physical,
have denied them medical and mental health care, and have employed harsh
and punitive measures inappropriate to civil detention,
disproportionate to any alleged offense, and in retaliation for
complaints," the lawyers said in the complaint as they pressed for an
"ICE is firmly committed to the safety and welfare of all those in its
custody," U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Nestor
Yglesias said in a statement to MPR News. "ICE has a strict
zero-tolerance policy for any kind of abusive or inappropriate behavior
in its facilities and takes any allegation seriously. ICE ensures
facilities operate in compliance with its rigorous national detention
standards through an aggressive inspection program."
John Bruning, an attorney with the Kim Hunter Law firm in St. Paul that
has two clients on the returned flight, traveled to Miami last week to
help with the ongoing litigation since his firm has experience with
Somali immigration cases. He interviewed eight Somali detainees at
On Jan. 2, Bruning spoke with 32-year-old Mohamud Hassan from Minnesota.
When guards brought him in the interviewing room, Hassan was in a
five-point restraint. His handcuffs were attached to a waist chain and
his feet were chained.
In a sworn statement included in the
complaint, Hassan said he had failed back surgery in the summer and
still has a wound from the surgery. During the botched Dec. 7 flight,
Hassan said he explained to a guard that he stood up because his back
hurt. "The guard body-slammed me and put his knee in my back right where
my surgery wound is," he wrote in the affidavit. "He did it on purpose,
after I told him about my back."
At Glades, Hassan said he was
given a pain medicine and muscle relaxer but later got into an argument
with an officer about his pain treatment.
"The officer wouldn't
listen and made moves to body-slam and tackle me to the ground," Hassan
wrote. "I tried to warn the officers about my back and went down on the
ground voluntarily, but then the officer stomped on my back, right on my
"He also punched me in the face and beat me
while other officers and a Lieutenant watched," added Hassan, who was
later placed in a segregated unit for 30 days. He added, "I am in a lot