Cut Detroit ICE’s Budget So That Director Rebecca Adducci is Forced to Focus on Real Priorities

Lynn Tramonte
6 min readSep 12, 2018


Two different stories, two different states, one thing in common: the person making incomprehensible, dangerous decisions that disrespect human life in the name of “enforcing immigration laws.” That person’s name is Rebecca Adducci, and she is the Field Office Director of Detroit ICE, with jurisdiction over Michigan and Ohio.

In Michigan, Adducci has recently been trying to deport Francis Anwana, a deaf man with cognitive disabilities who has thrived in the US due to the treatment and care he has received over the past thirty-four years. America is his home. Sending him back to Nigeria would be a death sentence, experts say, given the lack of appropriate medical care.

Anwana’s case would melt the heart of practically any American — anyone but Ann Coulter, it seems. She went on a twitter tirade praising ICE for its efforts to deport Mr. Anwana, a tirade that included making fun of his second grade reading abilities. In the latest developments, Detroit ICE has now said Mr. Anwana can leave “voluntarily,” which is hardly consoling.

@DeafScribe, who describes himself as a “deaf man who has cared for developmentally-delayed deaf adults very similar to Francis,” dismantles Coulter’s “argument” in two must-read twitter threads. He asks: “Is it merely coincidental that ICE informed Francis he was selected for deportation during the first week of Deaf Awareness Month? Really? Or are we seeing a pattern of calculated persecution intended to instill fear, using the most vulnerable as pawns?”

Meanwhile in Ohio Ansly Damus, a Haitian man who has won his asylum case in the United States not once by twice, remains behind bars.

Mr. Damus is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, Human Rights First, and Covington & Burling LLP against five ICE Field Offices — including Detroit — who have engaged in a sickening practice of holding asylum-seekers in jail despite winning their claims, in an effort to get them to drop their cases and accept deportation.

Back to the question posed by @DeafScribe — are we seeing a pattern of calculated persecution, using the most vulnerable as pawns — I think we have our answer from Detroit ICE.

In July, a federal court sided with the ACLU and ordered the government to review each plaintiff’s case for potential release from detention. Mr. Damus has no criminal record, and he has a community of people in northeast Ohio who stand ready to help him when he is released. Still, the government has repeatedly declined to let him out of jail, forcing his lawyers to file a petition for writ of habeas corpus in U.S. District Court.

The legal motion states: “Despite having followed all the rules, including every procedure for seeking asylum in this country — and twice winning his asylum claim — Mr. Damus remains imprisoned in a windowless room in Geauga County Safety Center in Chardon, Ohio. He has not had a glimpse of the outdoors for nearly two years.”

Many of the most gut-wrenching examples of immigration enforcement gone horribly, horribly wrong, in the era of Trump, originate in the Detroit ICE Field Office, dreamt up and carried out by Adducci and her “unshackled” henchmen.

There’s the case of Southgate, Michigan father Ded Rranxburgaj, whose wife Flora has debilitating multiple sclerosis and is frequently hospitalized. Mr. Rranxburgaj had been allowed to remain in the United States to care for his wife over the past two decades. Now, though, he has been forced to move into sanctuary in Detroit just to be able to continue caring for her.

There are the men deported to Mexico who have been kidnapped and held for ransom. The military-style immigration raids at Corso’s Flower and Garden Center and Fresh Mark that left families torn asunder and children in crisis.

There is the depressing list of long-term U.S. residents and taxpayers with American children, who had been previously allowed to remain in the United States as long as they didn’t commit any crimes, and have now been deported simply because they could be. Many of the cases garnered national and international attention for their cruelty. Each name on the list is connected to an untold number of children, spouses, and other loved ones who remain behind and grieving in the United States.

And, there is the very fact that — in yet another 180 degree reversal of U.S. policy — the U.S. government is now deporting Black Mauritanians, who have lived in the US for decades, to statelessness and slavery. Ohio is home to most Mauritanian-Americans.

This issue was first exposed by The Atlantic, and has also been covered locally at the Columbus Dispatch and ABC 6 as well as nationally in Newsweek. Recently, the Washington Post editorial board blasted ICE’s cruelty in an editorial “ICE is sending Mauritanians back to modern-day slavery”:

THE WEST AFRICAN nation of Mauritania is known for its poets, for its reserves of gold — and for its failure to take meaningful action to curtail the pervasive practice of modern slaveholding. Tens of thousands of people there, especially women and children, are believed to be in bondage, which explains why undocumented Mauritanians living in the United States have seldom been deported in the past — because doing so would mean enslavement and even torture for many of them.

That seems not to concern the Trump administration’s deportation agents, who, in a stark departure from past practice, have sent back dozens of Mauritanians to a likely future in bondage. In many cases, the deportees have lived in the United States for many years, during which they were merely required to check in periodically with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The deportees in question are black Mauritanians, who are ethnically distinct, and speak a different language from the majority Arab and Berber tribes that form the country’s majority and its slaveholding merchant class. They have suffered brutal discrimination as well as enslavement for decades. More recently, the government stripped them of citizenship, meaning that black Mauritanians living overseas, including in the United States, are stateless.

Mauritania doesn’t want them, and many of them left under threat of violence from the authorities. Heedless of that, and the grim fate that awaits them if they return, ICE is arresting and deporting them anyway. That is unconscionable.

Once again, Detroit ICE and Rebecca Adducci are at the center of the cruelty. A new team of lawyers — Julie Nemecek, Yolanda Rondon, and the non-profit law firm Advocates for Basic Legal Equality — have been filing emergency stays and motions to reopen in many of the Mauritanian cases, with some success.

Yesterday, a deportation scheduled for today was temporarily paused by the Board of Immigration Appeals. But just last week, Samba Diaw was deported to statelessness and has not been heard from. Seyni Diagne, suffering from untreated cancer and Hepatitis, was also deported to Mauritania. Up to two dozen men remain incarcerated in Ohio awaiting the same fate. And ICE continues to aggressively seek their deportation.

These examples are confirmed by the statistics Adducci has been racking up. Her field office has more than doubled the number of people with no criminal record being deported.

If the goal of Adducci’s ICE office truly was about protecting the public, she wouldn’t be focusing resources on people like Francis Anwana, Ansly Damus, or Black Mauritanians who settled in Ohio twenty years ago. It’s impossible to argue that they pose any sort of danger to anyone.

If she believed in the sanctity of human life, she wouldn’t deport a developmentally delayed deaf man to a country that has no means to care for him — not during Deaf Awareness Month or any month. She wouldn’t try to force Ansly Damus to drop his asylum case — which he has already won, twice, in court — and return to his persecutors. And she wouldn’t be deporting stateless Mauritanians to torture and slavery.

Rebecca Adducci has taken Trump’s extreme anti-immigration policy to a dangerous, dehumanizing level. We will continue to oppose her actions in court and on the streets, but that’s not enough. Her agency’s budget must be cut — dramatically — so that she is forced to focus on true priorities.



Lynn Tramonte

Director, Ohio Immigrant Alliance. Daughter, sister, Mom, wine drinker, proud NE Ohioan! Lifetime #immigration advocate. Views are my own, unless you agree!