Immigrant with criminal record has been deported to Somalia
On the evening of Nov. 2, a young corporate lawyer in New Jersey received a frantic call from a charity client, a 46-year-old Harlem grocery clerk with a history of petty crime. He was in custody on an airplane in Newark on his way to Mogadishu, the capital of his native Somalia, a country so dangerous that to the lawyer’s knowledge, no one had been deported there in years.
The courts were closed, and a federal judge who heard an emergency motion the next day ruled that the clerk, Mohamad Rasheed Jama, was already outside United States jurisdiction.
So, after a stop in Nairobi, where he was handed over to Kenyans, Mr. Jama stepped off an airplane in Mogadishu — and into the hands of Islamist militants, who soon accused him of being an American spy and began demanding money.
“They were extremely angry,” said his lawyer, Emily B. Goldberg, relating the last frightened call she got from Mr. Jama, who had spent four years in immigration detention in New Jersey awaiting deportation to the land he left at 18. “He asked me if there was anything I could do. I told him in the American system, there was nothing more I could do.”
Mr. Jama, whose deportation was based on a 1989 conviction for owning an unlicensed gun, is among the first Somalis to be repatriated against his will since the United States Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 last year that the lack of a functioning central government in Somalia did not bar such deportations. About 4,000 Somalis nationwide are eligible for immediate deportation under the ruling, which turned on the syntax of a Congressional statute.
My only problem with this deportation was that it only took place in 2006 when he was convicted back in 1989. Let us hope that, in future, the authorities will be more timely in deporting immigrant criminals.