Many asylum seekers and immigrants in California are seriously concerned about the threat of removal or deportation, especially as debates over immigration loom large in political contests. In many cases, people being deported were previously held in immigration detention facilities run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where serious concerns have been raised about abuse and mistreatment. Two Cameroonian men were removed from a deportation flight in October 2020 after a complaint was filed arguing that they were compelled to sign their deportation papers against their will by ICE agents.
Men allege coercion in deportation documents
Several immigration advocacy groups filed the complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General. In the document, eight asylum seekers from Cameroon say that they were coerced into signing documents agreeing to their deportation through the use of force, including pepper spray. Several of the people in the complaint were not taken to the airport, but these two men were removed from the plane only moments before takeoff. One of the men said that he is still suffering injuries from the pepper spray and that his fingerprints to place on the agreement were forcibly obtained against his objections.
Men may still face deportation risk
Officials said that the men were removed from the flight in order to be questioned as part of the investigation into potential abuse by ICE agents. However, no assurances were provided that they would not later be deported. Advocates notes that the men face serious dangers, up to and including risks of execution, if they are deported back to Cameroon.
For asylum seekers with denied claims or others facing threats of deportation, severe risks may accompany a return to their home country. People concerned about deportation and removal may learn more about options to protect their rights by consulting an immigration attorney.