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Deportation of Seattle-Area Somalis Halted Because There Is No Functioning Government in Somalia: Part 2 of the Debate with the Ins

StoryNovember 22, 2002
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We turn now to a story about another group of refugees who are targeted for deportation.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer ran a story on Saturday that goes something like this:

’Mohamed Aweys says he was foolish to overstay his visa.

’But he does not want to die because of it.

’Ahmed Noor Yousuf is also a refugee from Somalia, and he has similar fears.

’He hopes the United States can find a way to send him back to northern Somalia and not war-torn Mogadishu in the south.

'The two men are among five Somali men the INS in Seattle is detaining. They await deportation to a homeland that their attorneys say doesn't exist. With no government and no officials to accept the men, attorneys argue, the five men should not be deported to Somalia.’

Some of their supporters say sending them home would be tantamount to a death sentence, given the civil war that rages in Mogadishu.

US District Judge Marsha Pechman granted the men a temporary delay.

The Seattle attorneys are citing a case earlier this year in Minnesota, in which a federal judge ordered immigration officials not to deport a Somali man convicted of assault. U.S. District Judge John Tunheim ruled it is illegal to send Somalis back to a country without a functioning government.


  • Pramila Jayapal, Executive Director and founder of Hate Free Zone Campaign of Washington. She is the author of Pilgrimage to India: A Woman Revisits Her Homeland (Seal Press). She is also Chair of Chaya, a non-profit organization serving South Asian women in crisis.
  • Bill Strassberger, Public Affairs Officer, INS, Washington, DC. He is the primary spokesperson for INS asylum, refugee and immigration law issues.

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