“As the plane sat on the runway, the 92 detainees remained bound, their handcuffs secured to their waists, and their feet shackled together,” the complaint — filed by a team of lawyers from the Immigration Clinic at the University of Miami Law School, Americans for Immigrant Justice, the James H. Binger Center for New Americans at the University of Minnesota Law School, and Legal Aid Service of Broward County — reads.
“When the plane’s toilets overfilled with human waste, some of the detainees were left to urinate into bottles or on themselves. ICE agents wrapped some who protested, or just stood up to ask a question, in full-body restraints. ICE agents kicked, struck, or dragged detainees down the aisle of the plane, and subjected some to verbal abuse and threats.”
ICE Air Operations is a division of the agency responsible for deportation flights. “ICE Air Operations personnel follow best practices when it comes to the security, safety and welfare of the aliens returned to their countries of origin,” its website reads. “There are a variety of [Enforcement and Removal Operations] personnel on board who ensure the health and safety of the aliens and officers during removal flights.”
But that’s not what happened on December 7, when the plane stopped in Senegal to refuel, then sat on a runway there for 23 hours before being re-routed to Miami. ICE explained the delay in a statement it issued in December. “The relief crew was unable to get sufficient crew rest due to issues with their hotel in Dakar,” so the aircraft remained parked so that the crew could rest. “The allegations of ICE mistreatment onboard the Somali flight are categorically false. No one was injured during the flight, and there were no incidents or altercations that would have caused any injuries on the flight.”