Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) tweeted last Friday her concerns about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement still deporting individuals, like Somalis, while the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing, calling it "cruel."
The issue was raised after immigration lawyers, advocates, and Omar said a deportation flight headed for Somalia could have passengers with COVID-19 symptoms, according to Roll Call.
"We have now learned that at least one detainee has tested positive for COVID-19 and that others are showing symptoms," Omar told CQ Roll Call. "Let’s be clear — deporting people who have COVID-19 is pure cruelty — not just for the individuals themselves, but for the countless who could contract the illness. And we know that ICE has done this before."
Deporting immigrants during a pandemic is cruel — but deporting immigrants infected with COVID-19 and exporting the virus to other countries is on an entirely different level of inhumane.— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) September 18, 2020
ICE must be held accountable.https://t.co/8aBPbaq01q
Omar sent a letter to ICE about her concerns with the deportation flight.
ICE responded to Omar in a letter explaining who was being sent back to Somalia. Of the 39 individuals who were deported, 36 had criminal histories.
"These crimes include murder, rape, domestic violence, assault, sexual assault, crimes against children, drug trafficking, and conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. These individuals have created countless victims and were a serious threat to public safety," Tony Pham, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director for ICE, wrote.
Pham also outlined the medical guidelines all deportation flights must follow prior to taking off, such as conducting temperature checks and providing masks. He added no one showing outwards signs of sickness is put on a flight.
Today’s flight to Somalia included the removal of dangerous criminals. Read more ?? pic.twitter.com/E2bWzcj708— ICE (@ICEgov) September 19, 2020