A special chartered flight touched down at Kotoka International Airport in Ghana on Wednesday, carrying 108 Ghanaian and Liberian migrants who were deported from the United States, according to Africa News.
The deportees, mostly from the Ashanti and central regions, were reportedly deported for various crimes, including drug-related offenses, lack of legal migration documents, overstaying their visas, and more.
Once they arrived in Ghana, though, the returnees refused to disembark from the plane in protest of inhumane treatment by U.S. officials.
“We were handcuffed by the U.S. authorities before we boarded the plane, and even though we pleaded with them to remove the restraining devices while we were on board, they refused,” one of the returnees told reporters at the airport.
“Strangely when the plane landed, they freed our hands and legs and asked us to disembark. That is why we said we would not get down unless they allowed us to get down with the handcuffs for everybody to see how they had treated us.”
Yet another deportee complained, “We all left Ghana for America to better our future so we passed through Brazil to Colombia and some of us even died on the way. Now the people handcuffed us; they only gave us bread and water from morning till evening.”
Reports also indicate that the deportees wanted to be given money to board vehicles to their respective homes.
It reportedly took the intervention of Ghanaian police, National Security, and Immigration officers to convince the angry returnees to leave the plane.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has often been criticized for unfairly deporting African migrants who are trying to seek asylum in the United States.
In fact, according to Think Progress, immigration activists in the United States claim that the majority of these deportees shouldn’t be targeted by ICE since they usually pass their credible fear interviews, a preliminary step in the asylum process to determine whether immigrants would be placed in grave danger if they are returned to their home countries.
Still, in a letter addressed to Ghanaian authorities, U.S. officials said 51 more Ghanaian deportees are expected to be flown back to Ghana sometime next week, according to My Joy Online.
Wednesday’s deportation comes amid continuous reports of African immigrants dying as they cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.