Mauritanian Refugees On War, Genocide And Exile

Nov 25, 2019

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Between 1989 and 1990 war erupted in the sub-Saharan nation of Mauritania, Africa. Approximately 70,000 Afro-Maritanians, members of a slave caste, were exiled. On November 28, 1990, the country’s Independence Day, the Mauritanian government executed 28 soldiers.

30 years since the war and genocide, Ohio is now home to the largest population of Mauritanian refugees. Now, many Mauritanian nationals, including Lockland resident Amadou Sow, are caught up in the U.S. immigration system. Sow was detained by immigration officials and scheduled for deportation. After 11 months, Amadou Sow was released after a routine review of his detention. He now has a hearing scheduled in Detroit immigration court on December 18, 2019.

On November 25 from 4 to 8 p.m. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center hosts “The 30th Anniversary of the Mauritanian Genocide.” Joining Cincinnati Edition to discuss the event are Dr. Mamadou Sy, a Mauritanian refugee deported to Senegal during the genocide; spokesperson for the Mauritanian community and event organizer Saidou Wane; Awa Harouna who is the daughter of Amadous Sow and who appeared in the Netflix series "Living Undocumented"; and with the Immigrant and Refugee Law Center attorney D. Alexandria Lubans-Otto, Esq. who represents Amadou Sow.

We reached out to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement for comment their current policy of detaining Mauritanians. They released this statement:

“ICE does not target individuals for immigration enforcement based on race, gender or ethnicity. ICE detains individuals while their cases move through the nation’s immigration courts or to effect their removal from the U.S. Custody determinations are made on a case-by-case basis after evaluating all the circumstances of an individual’s case.

“While ICE focuses its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security, all individuals in violation of U.S. immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the U.S.”

ON BACKROUND (for context):

"On Jan. 25, 2017, President Donald J. Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) entitled Executive Order 13,768, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, which set forth the administration’s immigration enforcement and removal priorities. Subsequently, DHS issued an Implementation Memorandum on Feb. 20, 2017, that provided direction for the implementation of the policies set forth in the EO. Based on that guidance, ICE no longer exempts classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement."