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US Will Send 4,000 Somalis Back to Their Home Country


FILE- Deported Somali nationals gesture as they arrive at the airport in Somalia's capital of Mogadishu, April 9, 2014. Sixty-eight Somalis arrived in Magodishu Friday, having been deported by U.S. immigration authorities.


Somalia’s ambassador to the United States says his embassy has learned that U.S. immigration officers plan to deport about 4,000 Somali nationals.

Ahmed Isse Awad is the Somali ambassador to the U.S. He spoke to the Voice of America’s Somali service on Saturday.

He said that most of those set to be removed are not in detention centers.

The Somali embassy in Washington reopened in November 2015. Since then, Awad said, about 170 Somali immigrants have been deported to Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital. Some of them broke U.S. law. Others applied for asylum but were denied.

Another group of Somalis whose asylum requests were denied are now in detention centers or prisons. They will soon be deported.

FILE - Somali immigrant leader Jamal Dar, right, who arrived in the U.S. two decades ago, hands out snacks to a boy at a community engagement and civic language class for former Somali residents at AYCO offices in East Portland, Ore., July 21, 2015.

FILE - Somali immigrant leader Jamal Dar, right, who arrived in the U.S. two decades ago, hands out snacks to a boy at a community engagement and civic language class for former Somali residents at AYCO offices in East Portland, Ore., July 21, 2015.

Fewer than 300 Somalis are currently set to be moved out in the next couple of months, Awad told VOA. He said that his embassy was waiting for information from U.S. authorities about who will be deported and when.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently arrested 82 people from 26 nations. This happened late last month during a five-day operation in and around Washington, D.C.

In a statement, ICE said 68 of those detained had previously been convicted of crimes.

FILE - Students walk home from school in Lewiston, Maine, Jan. 26, 2016. Since February 2000, more than 5,000 Africans have come to Lewiston; now, many Somali shops, restaurants and mosques serve the city.

FILE - Students walk home from school in Lewiston, Maine, Jan. 26, 2016. Since February 2000, more than 5,000 Africans have come to Lewiston; now, many Somali shops, restaurants and mosques serve the city.

Awad said a 50-year-old Somali man was among those detained last month. He identified himself as a top official in Somalia’s National Security Service. He had previously been deported to Somalia in 1996.

"According to ICE, he came back to the U.S. in 1997 under a different name," Awad said. "In 2014, he was jailed for 11 months for forgery and drug-related crimes.”

Since then, Awad said, the man has committed other crimes.

U.S. immigration officials said eight of those arrested during ICE's recent operation had no known criminal records. They either had stayed longer than their visas permitted or ignored final orders to leave the country.

Somalis who have already been sent back to Somalia have told VOA they returned to a changed – and dangerous -- country.

Somalia has not had a strong central government for more than 25 years. Because of this, many nations have not forcibly returned Somali immigrants to Somalia because of safety concerns.

Immigration policies in the United States, however, have become increasingly strict under the administration of President Donald Trump.

I’m Alice Bryant.

Mohamed Olad Hassan reported this story for VOA’s Somali service. Alice Bryant adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in This Story

detention center - n. a place where people who have entered a country illegally are kept for a period of time

deport - n. to force a person who is not a citizen to leave the country

customs - n. an agency that enforces duties or taxes on imported goods

forgery - n. the crime of falsely making or copying a document in order to deceive people

strict - adj. used to describe a command or rule that must be obeyed

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