Somali teen released to Oregon foster family, according to judge
A Somali teen was released to his Oregon foster family after he was taken to an adult detention center. An Oregon judge sided with the teenager after discovering that authorities violated the law by performing a dental bone scan to conclude that he was no longer a minor.
An Oregon judge released a Somali teen to his foster family after deciding that the immigration authorities, who placed him in an adult detention center, violated laws. The decision was made by U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman on Tuesday.
In December, the teenager, whose identity has not been released, was taken from his foster family and placed in the Northwest Detention Center, a private immigration prison located on the Port of Tacoma in Washington. The prison is operated by the GEO Group on behalf of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
So, why was the teenager moved to the Northwest Detention Center? The answer – a dental bone scan analysis. Late last year, the teen fled Somalia after his father was murdered and requested asylum at a port of entry in Texas. The Office of Refugee Resettlement processed the young man, put him in a shelter for a brief period, and he was later placed in a foster home in Portland.
The family embraced the teen, and he was thriving at a local high school. However, on December 9, the Office of Refugee Resettlement conducted a dental bone scan analysis, and it was determined that the teen was no longer a minor.
A federal judge in Seattle ordered immigration officials to release the Somali teenager because she believes that the action was illegal. Pechman said:
“… a law enacted in 2008 precludes the government from determining age exclusively with the bone tests.”
The teen is not free for very long; Pechman ordered him to be released until he turns 18 when he will be returned to the custody of immigration officials. It is not known if he will be forced to go back to his home country.
The Department of Justice’s lawyer, who is handling the case, did not wish to comment on the story. Matt Adams, legal director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, said the agency’s actions were indefensible and added:
“Instead of protecting unaccompanied children and focusing enforcement actions on those who pose an actual threat to the community, they targeted a child.”
According to court papers, the teenager said the experience was frightening. The documents stated:
…the teen said that when authorities put him in handcuffs, they didn’t talk to him and just said he was over 18, the group said. While at the Tacoma facility, the teen said, he was so scared that he couldn’t sleep for days and could barely eat…
What are your thoughts on the Somali teen’s immigration problems?