(KMSP) - Just minutes before the plane meant to take Maxamed Adan back to Somalia against his will was set to take off, immigration authorities yanked the Minnesota man off the plane--a welcome respite from deportation for a man who's been in the United States for more than 20 years.
Now, he's back home in Minneapolis with his family and sharing his harrowing ordeal.
Adan is one of only a handful of men who received emergency stays by a federal judge last month and are allowed to be back in Minnesota, just a portion of the 92 Somali nationals now facing deportation.
“You lose all your freedom,” Adan said of his months-long detention at an immigration detention center in Louisiana. He was doing regular check-ins with his immigration officer when he was arrested in September.
"[I gave] my driver’s license, and then he said, ‘wait.,’" he said. "Three guys came over and they just arrested me."
With his hands and feet shackled, he was transported for hours, not knowing if he'd ever see his family again.
Adan came to the U.S. in the '90s seeking asylum from war-torn Somalia, and has lived in Minneapolis for more than 20 years. He's married with three young children and a wife, Ifrah Ali, who also escaped the violence in Somalia and was granted American citizenship.
“How do you tell the kids?" Ali asked. "How do they understand the situation that their father may never be here?”
While working and raising his family, Adan was in the process of trying to become naturalized. But the Trump administration has since cracked down on all immigrants, regardless of their protected status.
“I don’t want to get separated from my family; I want to raise my kids with the American ways,” Adan said.
He narrowly missed being put on a failed deportation flight to Somalia after his attorney intervened, but dozens of other men from Minnesota did not have the same luck.
“The flight as a whole was really a tremendous ordeal for everyone—46 hours shackled, hands to their waist and feet," said John Bruning, who represents Adan and several others on the flight. "Many people weren’t able to use the bathroom.”
Lawsuits have been filed on behalf of the detainees, claiming they suffered horrific abuse both on the plane and in the Miami detention centers. In his declaration, Bruning writes about one of his clients' injuries: "the pain was exacerbated by a physical altercation with guards on the flight that landed in Senegal."
“The conditions in jail are so bad for a lot of people that a number of them who have good claims to stay here are considering going back just to get out of jail,” Bruning said.
The next hearing will be in Miami on Jan. 22. If the judge finds jurisdiction, the cases of these detainees will move to the next step--but if not, then they most likely will be sent back to Somalia for good.