Thursday, June 15, 2017


By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sixty-three Ghanaians - all males - were deported from the United States of America yesterday.

They touched down at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) on board a special flight - OmniAir International - at about 8:00 am with some of them in chains and handcuffs.

The deportees were supposed to be 63 but one could not get the chance to board the plane and was left behind to be brought in later.

According to source, majority of the deportees were football supporters who went to watch the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil but managed to enter the US and never returned.

But the authorities reportedly tracked them and brought all of them to detention centres.

Majority of the deportees, who looked furious, were handed over to the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) for screening, and the Ghana Police Service and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) were there to offer assistance.

The US authorities have said that they were brought back because they were staying in the country illegally.

One of the deportees, Awudu, told Accra-based Peace FM that he was part of a group of Ghanaians who went to watch the 2014 World Cup in Brazil but managed to stay back after the tournament, and later went to the USA to seek asylum.

He said he was detained in California for a period but later moved to Arizona and then to New York before his deportation.

Over 100 deportees - 54 of whom were Ghanaians - arrived in November last year even before President Donald Trump, who has not hidden his intention to deport all illegal and undocumented immigrants from that country, assumed office.

Deportation Hint
US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert P. Jackson, had hinted that about 7,000 Ghanaians living illegally in the US were being processed for deportation.

“In fact, about 7,000 of them are currently at different stages of the deportation process. And we are not apologetic about that,” Mr. Jackson said in the Brong-Ahafo Region on Thursday, April 27, 2017.

Immediately Mr. Trump won the American election on Wednesday, 9 November, 2016, the Ambassador had said on radio that Ghanaians who overstayed their visas in the US must be concerned because the new administration would ask them to “depart.”

“One thing that I do think that Ghanaians need to be aware of is, I think the president-elect, as I mentioned, is likely to be more rigid about illegal immigration. We have a lot of Ghanaians who have overstayed their visas in the US and I think that they need to be concerned about whether they would be allowed to remain illegally. My guess is they will be given some options, but the president will be serious about asking those who’ve violated their visa status to depart,” Mr. Jackson had told Class FM in November.

Asked if that meant more Ghanaians should be expected back home through deportation, Mr Jackson said, “I think that’s already underway in the Obama administration. I think it’s likely to accelerate under a Trump administration, but apart from that I do not expect major changes in our policy and whatever government emerges here after the elections on December 7 will have a friend in the U.S. and I’m confident will be a friend of the U.S.”

Maltreatment Claims
Some of the deportees have complained that they were never involved in any criminal offence yet the US authorities treated them like common criminals.

“Most of us were handcuffed and treated as criminals by the U.S. authorities in Louisiana and even while on board the plane,” an aggrieved deportee complained.

Another deportee said that when the plane touched down at KIA, the US escorts attempted to take off the handcuffs to create an impression that they were treated with respect.

“They handcuffed us before we were put on board the plane. That is why we were saying we are not getting down unless they allow us to get down with the handcuffs for everybody to see how they have been treating us,” he posited.

He maintained, “They called some immigration officers (at the airport) to come and talk to us but we said ‘no we want to come down with the handcuffs on’ and so they said we should come down. They handcuffed us in the United States. My waist, hands and my legs were all cuffed. Both legs [were cuffed], so you cannot even walk, you cannot eat, you cannot do anything.”

Another said, “We have been handcuffed from Monday to today and a lot of people here (Kotoka Airport) today saw it. If you think I am lying, you can ask the people around. If you want to urinate you struggle in the handcuff before passing urine.”

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