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African Asylum Seekers “Caught in Hell”

Plus: Woman died after testing positive for COVID-19 in ICE custody, refugee arrivals on track for record low in 2021

This summary was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

Divine Tikum Kem spent 15 months in two immigration jails in Louisiana. He was caught up in the mass deportation of Black asylum seekers at the end of the Trump administration. Now, he’s one of four African complainants whose experiences in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention are depicted in a complaint filed with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, ICE and other officials by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative. The complaint seeks to close these detention centers, safely release ICE detainees and terminate ICE detention. It showcases dehumanizing practices the immigrants went through, including a lack of clean drinking water. Truthout 

Nicaraguan Woman Died After Testing Positive for COVID-19 in ICE Custody

Government documents obtained by BuzzFeed News revealed that a 37-year-old Nicaraguan woman died in ICE custody after testing positive for COVID-19. The woman was arrested by Border Patrol agents who transferred her to ICE. According to the documents, the woman said she feared being transferred back to her home country. She soon tested positive for COVID-19 and was brought to a hospital in Harlingen, Texas. Her cause of death hasn’t been determined. This woman is the fifth person to die in ICE custody during the 2021 fiscal year. More than 22,000 immigrant detainees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic as of this week; ICE currently holds 25,000 detainees. BuzzFeed News 

Refugee Arrivals at Record Low for 2021 Fiscal Year

Suleiman Omar Hassan, who lived in Uganda, eagerly waited for President Joe Biden to take office to see if the president would expand the U.S.’s refugee cap. But regardless of Biden’s expansion, by April, Hassan was able to move to North Dakota and reunite with his family after waiting eight years. Hassan is one of the 6,300 refugees who have arrived in the U.S. since last October, putting the U.S. on track to accept its lowest number of refugee admissions in a fiscal year. The refugee program declined under former President Donald Trump, who drastically cut the number of refugees allowed to arrive to the U.S. CNN 

10 People Killed After Packed Van Crashes Near Southern Border

About 10 individuals died after a van that was carrying more than two dozen passengers who were believed to be migrants crashed in South Texas. According to local officials, the crash was about 80 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. Sgt. Nathan Brandley of the Texas Department of Public Safety said at least 20 people were injured and several were in critical condition at local hospitals, in addition to the 10 who died. The Department of Public Safety worked with the Mexican consulate and Border Patrol to identify the victims. The crash came less than a week after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning private vehicles from transporting migrants. The New York Times 

Minnesotans Demanded Food and Housing Aid During the Pandemic

African Career, Education and Resource, Inc. is a nonprofit for Black immigrants and refugees in Minnesota’s Twin Cities that helps them access education, employment, healthcare and affordable housing. When the pandemic hit, ACER leaders knew they had to assist thousands of Black immigrant families. So the group discovered ways to deliver social services in immigrant neighborhoods of Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center and the cities’ northwest suburbs. ACER helped 1,500 people pay rent by either providing them funding or supporting them as they applied for relief. Sahan Journal sat down with Nelima Sitati Munene, ACER executive director, the discuss the impact the pandemic had on Black immigrants and how the group responded to the communities’ needs. Sahan Journal

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