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Deported Kenyans expected back in country tomorrow

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Kenyans deported from the US by President Donald Trump are expected to arrive in the country tomorrow.

Sources within the Foreign Affairs ministry intimated to the People Daily that the deportees would jet into the country early Tuesday.

“We expect the team on Tuesday earliest,” said a source, who declined to be named because he is  not allowed to speak on behalf of the government.

This even as the Foreign Affairs ministry remained tight-lip over the matter with one source revealing that the government was yet to take a position on the matter.

The deportations came on the day US ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter, resigned from his position ahead of Trump’s exit from power this week. 

In a statement, the outgoing US envoy said his last day will be Wednesday, the day when President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in. 

According to Prof Peter Kagwanja, a foreign policy expert and Chief Executive of the Africa Policy Institute, the deportation of Kenyans and other Africans was a perpetuation of President Trump’s anti-Obama campaign, which he had galvanised his constituency around during his time at the White House.

“By deporting Kenyans and other Africans at this late hour, Trump is talking directly to his constituents.

He is basically trying to aggravate the anti-Obama sentiments around which he has always galvanised his support. He has nothing to gain,” said Kagwanja.

Systematic effort

According to The Guardian, the Trump administration was racing against time to deport African asylum seekers, in its last few days before the inauguration of Joe Biden, who has promised a 100-day suspension of deportations, amid allegations of abuse of detainees, insufficient legal protections and inadequate precautions against Covid-19 infection.

The report stated that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had confirmed a “removal flight” left Louisiana on Thursday bound for Nairobi. 

The charter plane believed to be carrying Somali, Ethiopian and Kenyan deportees made a refuelling stop in Sofia. 

Immigrant support activists believe the deportees were transferred to commercial planes in Nairobi for transfer to other countries, according to the report.

It also reported mounting concerns that there could be a final deportation flight to Africa as late as tomorrow,  ahead of the Biden inauguration as part of a systematic effort by ICE  to move as many African asylum seekers as possible, out of the country before the end of the zealously anti-immigrant Trump administration.

The last few months of 2020 saw a rise in deportations of African nationals, despite ongoing political and sectarian violence in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries to which deportees were returned.

Fair hearing

Some of the deportees had open legal cases while others, according to their lawyers and immigrant advocacy groups, had not been given a fair hearing by immigration judges appointed by the justice department.

There were repeated allegations that detainees were forced, sometimes with beating, into signing documents waiving their rights to further legal hearings.

Many of the Cameroonians deported on earlier flights remain unaccounted for after their return.

Furthermore, ICE deportations have peaked during the coronavirus pandemic, requiring deportees to be packed together at close quarters.

According to the reports, there were 50 Somalis, two Ethiopians and a Kenyan being held at the Alexandria Ice centre before Thursday’s flight.

Donald Trump

In summary

    • In 2020, the number of Africans deported from the superpower country increased.
    • Some of the deportees had open legal cases against the move while others had not been given a fair hearing by immigration judges.
    • There were other claims that the immigrants were forced, sometimes with beatings, into signing documents waiving their rights to further legal hearings.
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