By Andrew Mark Miller
Sunday September 13, 2020
© Greg Nash
Rep. Ilhan Omar criticized Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Saturday over the agency’s potential deportation of illegal immigrants back to Somalia, citing coronavirus fears as a reason to halt the deportations.
“ICE is set to deport dozens of individuals from my district to Somalia, risking the spread of COVID,” the Minnesota Democrat tweeted. “ICE’s actions will not only put these individuals at risk, but could have far-reaching consequences for Somalia. This week, I sent a letter to ICE to get answers.”Omar, who has demanded as recently as this week that ICE be abolished, was born in Somalia and became the first Somali-American member of Congress when she was sworn in to represent Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in 2019.
In March, Omar joined 14 Democrats calling for ICE to halt all deportations, claiming that the coronavirus made it too dangerous to both hold illegal immigrants in detention centers and deport them to other countries.
“For detainees who are immunocompromised or otherwise susceptible to the worst consequences of contracting COVID-19, holding them in detention may be literally a matter of life and death," the Democrats said in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security about the spread of the coronavirus in ICE detention centers.
The letter added, “Deporting people who may have been exposed to coronavirus to either countries that have few or no cases or to countries with weak health care infrastructure is an unacceptable risk to take. Many countries, including the United States, are implementing strict border controls during this pandemic, and we should make no exception for ICE Air and deportations.”