UPDATE 2/16/2013 Both commenters and ICE spokesperson Shawn Neudauer have objected strongly to this article on the basis that it did not delve deeply into the criminal records of the two individual cases. That's true. It did not. The focus of this article was on the impact of deportations on the families and friends, the uncertainty of when and how such deportations happen, and fears about return to a country still at war.
No claim was made that either man was unjustly convicted or illegally deported. As the article states:
It’s a normal and legal procedure for the United States to expel immigrants who ware convicted of crimes, even if they’re lawful permanent residents. Some of the reasons for being subject to repatriation include sex and drug offenses, fraud and other white-collar felonies, as well as security and terrorism crimes.
Both of the men whose cases are detailed in the article were convicted of sexual assault. Sexual assault is a serious and reprehensible crime. Some details of both cases are set out below:
We had no information on Qasim Bashir's conviction prior to publishing the story because he had already been deported and the friends who talked to us about him did not have that information — or information about his date of birth, which is necessary for a records search. (Though date of birth is not always enough — see MPR article.) ICE spokesperson Shawn Neudauer informed us on February 4 that Qasim Bashir was:
Arrested on 2/19/1998 for criminal sexual conduct 1st degree in Hennepin County (age 19 when the crime was committed) Convicted on 12/17/1998 in Hennepin County of criminal sexual conduct 3rd degree and 1st degree and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was convicted in a trial by jury. Victim was 14. The conviction related to a 1998 sexual assault of four 14-year-old females by a group of 6-10 men. convicted in Minneapolis of a gang rape of a 14-year-old girl, committed when he was 19 years old.
Family members told our reporter that Hassan was "convicted for sleeping with an underage girl when he was a teenager." As it turns out, the official records say that is not true. According to information provided by ICE and an article in the Argus Leader, he was convicted of third-degree rape for having sex with a 12-year-old girl in a Sioux Falls, South Dakota motel room when he was 21.
Neudauer also points out that:
Sex crimes, particularly those against children, are specifically cited in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) [Sections 212, 237]. Such crimes have grave consequences resulting in the loss, revocation or denial of any immigration benefits – once he made the decision to commit the crime and got convicted he lost his ‘second chance.’
ICE spokesperson Shawn Neudauer responded on January 4 to a few of the questions that reporter Ibrahim Hirsi had sent to him in researching this story. He referred at that time to more answers coming in the next week. Those answers arrived on February 4, after the January 23 publication of the story. Here are those questions and answers:
Question: It's a normal procedure that immigrants, who are convicted and serve a sentence, to be deported. But in the past, some say, there were no deportations to countries that have no government, or are unstable. Has that changed now? Or that is not true at the first place and people have been deported to their countries if convicted?
Answer: ICE has historically experienced difficulty repatriating Somali nationals to Somalia due to the lack of a centralized government. Beginning in 2012, ICE’s ability to repatriate Somali nationals has improved. Consistent with its civil immigration enforcement priorities, ICE currently prioritizes the removal of aliens who pose a threat to public safety or national security.
Question: Does the U.S. believe that Somalia is safe enough for people to go back?
Answer: ICE considers country conditions when weighing whether an exercise of prosecutorial discretion may be warranted for a given alien, as described below.
ICE routinely exercises prosecutorial discretion when prioritizing cases for removal. When weighing whether an exercise of prosecutorial discretion may be warranted for a given alien, ICE officers, agents, and attorneys generally consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to the agency’s civil immigration enforcement priorities, country conditions, the length of presence in the United States, the age of the person upon arrival, whether the person is the primary caretaker of a young child, military service, family and community ties, medical conditions, and other factors. ICE officers, agents, and attorneys generally consider prosecutorial discretion on a case-by-case basis based upon the totality of the circumstances.
Question: How many people were deported so far?
Answer: ICE removed 13 aliens to Somalia in FY 2012 and 11 aliens to Somalia thus far in FY 2013.
Question: Is this the first wave of immigrants to be deported to Somalia?
Answer: No. Although ICE has historically experienced difficulty repatriating Somali nationals, some have been repatriated in the past. Beginning in 2012, ICE’s ability to repatriate Somali nationals has improved.
Question: When people are deported, are they handed over to their countries' government? Do the deportees get to choose what region of their countries they'd like to go or no?
Answer: ICE works closely with foreign governments to coordinate the safe return of aliens to their respective countries, which includes providing information regarding the individual’s place of origin.
Question: What's the total number of Minnesota immigrants who are subject to deportation as of today?
Answer: As of January 5, 2012, the number of final order aliens in the St. Paul, Minnesota Area of Responsibility (AOR), which includes Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa, is 9,986. ICE does not track these figures by state, only by AOR. (IIDS v.1.10 as of January 7, 2013)
- Editor, Mary Turck