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Justice for Detained Black Mauritanians

Black Mauritanians began seeking refuge in Ohio decades ago after fleeing their African homeland, where they faced violence, oppression, and slavery. They were among the lowest deportation priorities under previous administrations. They worked, paid taxes, and raised their families here. U.S. government officials also knew their life would be endangered if they were sent back to Mauritania.

Now, that has changed. Mauritanian immigrants with pending asylum claims were being detained during their monthly check-ins with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and told to report for deportation. In the fall of 2018, ABLE filed six emergency legal actions on behalf of Mauritanian clients to prevent their removal from the U.S., arguing that they should not be removed from the U.S. given that now Mauritania is stripping the departed natives of their citizenship.

After being detained for long periods in jails here in the United States, ABLE’s representation resulted in the release of some detainees and increased potential for grants of asylum. Importantly, ICE stopped detaining other Mauritanians at their ICE check-in meetings.

“While our released clients are breathing some sighs of relief, they don’t know for how long,” said ABLE Managing Attorney Eugenio Mollo, Jr. “We need to continue holding ICE accountable for its actions as we seek justice through the courts.”

About the author

Advocates for Basic Legal Equality

Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) is a non-profit regional law firm that provides high quality legal assistance in civil matters to help eligible low-income individuals and groups in western Ohio achieve self reliance, and equal justice and economic opportunity.