NEW YORK - The Trump administration has said it focuses on deporting criminals, but in its rush to deport one Harlem resident, it seems authorities left him without a country.
His attorney says it more closely resembles exile then deportation.
Fatumata Barrie says she has, “a big hole have a big hole in my heart.”
She’s trying to cope with the deportation of her son Ibrahim Barrie to Sierra Leone. It’s not just that he was sent out of the U.S., but how it happened. His lawyer says Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported Ibrahim under a different identity.
“He was rushed out of the country with a document that there’s no dispute that it’s been highly problematic. That’s one way to look at it. We look at it and would have said it’s been falsified,” said Gregory Copeland with the non-profit legal organization, Rapid Defense Network.
Sierre Leone initially refused to admit Ibrahim, but the U.S. would not take him back. So now Ibrahim Barrie is a man without a country, in limbo, he says, because Sierra Leone refuses to issue him the papers he needs to work and travel.
“No ID and none of the documents I have will have me get an ID,” explained Ibrahim via Skype, “(I) can’t get a job, can’t move around. Everywhere you go, you’re asked for identification.”
Ibrahim was 10 when he and his family left Sierra Leone to seek asylum in the U.S. He got his green card, but it was revoked after he was convicted of armed robbery.
After his release from prison, Ibrahim was ordered to check in with ICE every four to five months. Then President Donald Trump took office, and such cases took on a higher priority.
Ibrahim was ordered to begin checking monthly, and in the spring, ICE swooped into his Harlem apartment and deported him on July 11.
“You shouldn’t be able to exile someone to a country where that country is not accepting them as a national or a citizen,” said Copeland.
The problem is, ICE deported Ibrahim Barrie under the name Ibrahim *Moi Barry and Ibrahim Barry Moi (depending on which document you view). The spelling of his first and last name is different and he has the added name of Moi. Ibrahim's birth date is also wrong.
“I was told because that person is not considered as a Sierra Leone citizen, that everything must be straightened out before they can provide me with an identification card,” he told NY1.
Ibrahim is married to high school sweetheart, Harlem native Jennique Nelson and together they have a two-year-old girl.
NY1 caught up with her as she prepared move last week with their daughter to Sierra Leone. She just quit her job as a postal worker.
“There's nothing we can do it’s out of our hands, we’re gonna stay together as a family,” she told NY1.
Ibrahim’s attorney calls the case an example of the government running roughshod over procedures and protections to increase deportations.
“And if it’s happening to Mr. Barrie in this situation it’s probably happening to hundreds of other people that we’ll never hear about,” said Copeland.
The Department of Homeland Security says in a court filing that Ibrahim or someone representing him is responsible for the inaccurate information in his deportation documents.
The agency also blames immigration officials in Sierra Leone for miscommunication.