On the final full day of the Trump administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported between four and six Mauritarians to a nation the Trump administration had once punished for having failed to end slavery. This was just one of many deportation flights—including to Haiti and Latin America—that departed the United States just before President Joe Biden could impose a temporary moratorium on deportations.
Houleye Thiam, the president of the Mauritanian Network for Human Rights in the US, said that all the deportees on the flight were Black Mauritanians who had come to the United States seeking asylum during the Trump administration. “We thought this was just disgusting,” Thiam said, “that they were trying to squeeze a deportation…between Martin Luther King Day and the Biden inauguration.”
The deportations to Mauritania have inspired particular outrage because of the country’s abysmal human rights record. In 1981, the West African nation became the last country in the world to officially end slavery. It criminalized slaveholding in 2007, but, in practice, slavery continues. In 2018, the Trump administration cut off trade preferences for Mauritania after concluding that it had “made insufficient progress toward combating forced labor, in particular the scourge of hereditary slavery.” The persecution of Black Africans has been led by the Arab-Berber minority that rules the country.
*The views of the above article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Africa Speaks 4 Africa or its editorial team.