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Somali Refugees Beaten by ICE Speak Out

As an update to our previous story, “LaSalle Guards Beat, Pepper Sprayed African Asylum Seekers,” The Intercept reported on the grave abuses suffered by 30 Somali refugees through the story of one of the survivors, Guled Muhumed, this month. Muhumed had spent six months in ICE custody in eleven different facilities. He arrived to the West Texas Detention Facility, operated by LaSalle Corrections, on February 23.

The article described his arrival: “For Muhumed and the others, the apparent threat they posed in the eyes of detention center officials translated to being housed in moldy cells, cut off from other detainees, where the heavy smell of pepper spray lingered. ‘We didn’t go outside until maybe, like, five days into our stay,’ Muhumed said. ‘I started noticing everyone else was getting sick.”’

Muhumed was deported back to Somalia on early Thursday morning, March 29. He and the other thirty men spoke out prior to their deportation. “Their testimonials were compiled in a 23-page report that painted a profoundly disturbing picture of ICE contractors drunk on power. All of the men reported having been pepper-sprayed during their week in detention, and nearly half described physical abuse. One of the men claimed the warden of the facility punched him in the face repeatedly while he was in the nurse’s office. Another said guards repeatedly fondled his penis while he was pushed up against a wall.”

Following the incident, the San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board wrote an editorial on March 28, “Brutal conditions must be investigated.” Critiquing the private prison industry, the editorial team wrote:

“Running prisons — or immigrant centers — for private profit will, in our view, inevitably lead to cutting corners and unfair treatment. If these allegations are proven true, the decision to continue prisons for profit should be re-examined and the private contract in Sierra Blanca canceled. In fact, private prisons warrant examination even if the allegations aren’t borne out.”

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