WASHINGTON - For the second time this year, the United States has deported a group of Somalis to their home country.
A plane carrying 68 Somalis landed Friday at Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport. The deportees were accompanied by agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who handed them over to Somali authorities, officials say.
One of those deported, Nur Mohamed Mohamud, told VOA's Somali Service that he had traveled through more than 10 countries over a two-month period to reach the U.S.
He said he was detained in Florida for 20 months before being sent home. "They rejected my asylum application. I was not a criminal," he said.
Mohamud said the Somali Embassy in Washington issued the deportees travel documents that facilitated their return to Somalia.
Acting Somali Minister of Internal Security Abdirizak Omar Mohamed told state media that the government was informed about the deportees before their arrival in Mogadishu.
“There is no agreement between the Somali government and the United States about deportations, but these deportees were Somalis who had problems in detention who requested to be returned to Somalia,” he said.
This is the second time the U.S. has conducted a major deportation of Somali immigrants since Donald Trump became U.S. president on January 20. The first group of 90 Somalis was sent home by plane in late January.
Somalia's ambassador to the United States, Ahmed Isse Awad, told VOA's Somali service at the time that the immigrants had sent letters to the Somali Embassy in Washington requesting the deportation. All had been in detention centers or prisons.
Somalia is one of six countries affected by revised travel orders issued by Trump.
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has called on Trump to lift the restrictions on Somalis coming to the U.S.