Stay of Removal Extended for Men and Women on Failed Deportation Flight

Judge Finds Jurisdiction Over Challenge to Somali Deportations

Miami, FL – (January 30, 2018) – U. S. District Court Judge Darrin Gayles ruled on Friday that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is temporarily enjoined from deporting 92 Somalis who ICE had previously tried to deport in December 2017 in a botched flight that was forced to return the Somalis back to the United States.

The Order stated, “While the Court recognizes that the executive branch has broad discretion to carry out removal orders, the Court finds that it has jurisdiction in this case to prevent the unlawful exercise of that discretion against these specific Petitioners.”

The 92 men and women sustained injuries from being shackled at their wrists, waists, and legs for almost two days, including over 20 hours when the plane sat on the runway in Dakar, Senegal. During the time that the flight was in Senegal, the detainees report that ICE agents abused them and deprived them of access to the bathroom.

Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) and co-counsel, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the University of Miami Immigration Law Clinic, the University of Minnesota Law School Center for New Americans and Broward Legal Aid, represent the Somali men and women in their efforts to fight removal and reopen their immigration cases to reflect the current conditions in Somalia, conditions that would put their lives in jeopardy if they were returned to the war torn country.

Judge Gayles’ opinion cited to a U. S. State Department “Do Not Travel” advisory that noted increased anti-American and anti-Western attitudes in Somalia, which the Somali detainees fear will cause retaliation against them because they lived in the U. S. for many years.  “The Court’s thorough review of what it termed the ‘exceptional circumstances’ of this case reveals a depth of understanding of the plight of these individuals”, said Lisa Lehner, Senior Litigation Attorney at AI Justice.

A status conference is scheduled for February 1, 2018 to discuss pending motions, which include a Motion for Class Certification.


AI Justice is a non-profit law firm that protects and promotes the basic human rights of immigrants.  In Florida and on a national level, it champions the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children; advocates for survivors of trafficking and domestic violence; serves as a watchdog on immigration detention practices and policies; and speaks for immigrant groups who have compelling claims to justice. 120,000 immigrants from all over the world have been served since its founding.