Bennet Urges Investigation of Allegations of Abuse

Colorado News

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., questions Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, as he testifies before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during his nomination hearing to become director of national intelligence on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 5, 2020. (Gabriella Demczuk /The New York Times via AP, Pool)

DENVER, Colo. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet sent two letters to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DoS) calling for an investigation into allegations of egregious abuses against Cameroonian asylum seekers in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities and to end deportation of these individuals. Bennet’s letters follow a report that alleges ICE officers and contract employees used force to obtain the signature of asylum seekers on deportation documents.

In his letter to DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari and ICE Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director Tony Pham, Bennet calls on the DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and ICE to investigate a complaint alleging ICE’s use of pressure and excessive force to coerce asylum seekers to sign deportation documents at the Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez, Mississippi.

“The complaint alleges that ICE officers and contract employees used pepper spray, physical restraints, and other use of force measures to obtain the signature or fingerprint of detainees on deportation and travel documents to remove them from the U.S. These allegations are deeply disturbing and detail gross violations of ICE detention standards, U.S. law, and civil and human rights,” wrote Bennet in the letter.

In his letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Bennet calls on the Department of State to halt deportations of Cameroonians in light of the ongoing human rights abuses in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.

“In October, the United States repatriated fifty-seven asylum seekers back to Cameroon. The U.S. deported another thirty-seven Cameroonians on November 10, 2020. Many of the asylum seekers have testified to torture, detention, or witnessing the harm or killings of relatives…Given the severity of the violence these individuals face upon return to Cameroon and the historic success of asylum claims, I urge you to immediately cease the deportation and repatriation of Cameroonian asylum seekers,” wrote Bennet in the letter.

The text of the letter to DHS OIG and ICE is available HERE .

The text of the letter to the State Department is available HERE.

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