U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) cancelled a deportation flight to West Africa because of allegations of brutality by Ice agents in the treatment of the deportees. The statement emailed to the Guardian and the cancellation of the deportation flight, so that would-be deportees can be interviewed as witnesses, marks a dramatic change in tone by the agency, which has hitherto deflected and denied multiple earlier allegations of human rights abuses. The change suggests that the newly confirmed secretary for homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, may have begun to exert control over what some critics have described as a “rogue agency”. A plane carrying Cameroonian, Angolan and Congolese asylum seekers was due to take off from Alexandria, Louisiana, at 3pm on Wednesday, but was canceled with a few minutes to spare. Ice was accused of similar abuse last October, but denied the claims and did not change its policy of accelerated deportation of African and Caribbean asylum seekers. On Thursday, an Ice spokesperson signaled a change in stance.
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