Advocates in Atlanta’s Somali community are speaking out against recent immigration arrests reported in the Atlanta area, including in Clarkston, Georgia.
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About 10 Somalis were arrested this month, according to Omar Shekhey, president of the Somali American Community Center in Clarkston. He said some have been in the United States for decades and said he fears it will be dangerous to deport them to Somalia.
“There is a lot of issues that’s going on in Somalia and compounded with a civil war and famine that’s just devastating the whole country,” Shekhey said.
Bryan Cox, a spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement the agency has recently been able to obtain travel documents to carry out deportations to Somalia. For years, the agency was not able to because of conditions in the country.
Cox said there is no special operation taking place in Clarkston and arrests are part of the agency’s routine enforcement operations.
“Any claim that the arrest of Somali nationals is something unique is simply not accurate,” Cox said.
He said as of April 1, more than 200 Somalis have been deported in fiscal year 2017.
Earlier this year, the agency arrested more than 600 people in enforcement operations nationwide.