During the government shutdown, the Secret Service is protecting President Donald Trump and his administration without pay—yet the deportation of Africans continues apace. This week, 800,000 federal employees are expected to stop receiving paychecks, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement is shelling out for a pricey charter flight in an effort to remove a small handful of Mauritanian immigrants, perhaps as few as two.
Anyone who has logged on to the internet this year knows of Trump’s obsession with drumming up an artificial immigration crisis, warning of migrants surging across the southern border. But his government has the same single-minded fixation on removing immigrants who are long-term residents of the United States.
Last September, I wrote about how ICE has turned its attention to the Mauritanians of Columbus, Ohio. These West Africans were victims of ethnic cleansing. In the 1990s, they fled from the Arab government of their country, which had attempted to empty its borderlands of black people—a violent campaign that featured massacre, torture, rape, and enslavement. When the black Mauritanians came to the United States, they applied for asylum. Although they had a strong case for sanctuary, they didn’t speak English. They were betrayed by scam artists they hired to fill out their asylum claims, and so were never granted the refuge that they deserved.