A 60-year-old Ohio man who was waiting for hip replacement surgery was deported to his native Mauritania on Tuesday without the operation, according to his attorney.
Goura Ndiaye lived in Ohio for nearly 20 years, under supervision by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He attended routine check-in meetings with ICE without issue until December 2018, when he was detained.
Ndiaye was deported Tuesday, sent back to a country where the UN says some darker-skinned people like him are enslaved. He also has limited mobility because of his necrotic hip, according to his attorney, Alexandria Lubans-Otto.
Lubans-Otto said Ndiaye had been approved for total hip replacement surgery and was preparing for an operation when he was arrested for overstaying his visa. Medical records submitted in a court proceeding show he was taking classes meant for patients anticipating joint replacement and that a doctor had written, "All your labs look good to proceed with surgery."
Lubans-Otto said ICE did not allow him to receive that surgery while in custody.
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“They certainly were not interested in furloughing him for the surgery, which is what he needed,” said Lubans-Otto. “He was detained and never released, staying in conditions which are less than comfortable for a healthy individual.”
An ICE spokesperson confirmed to NBC News that Ndiaye had been deported from Arizona on Tuesday. ICE did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Ndiaye's medical condition during detention, or whether he was medically cleared for deportation.
A doctor who said she met with Ndiaye during his detention told NBC News he was able to walk with "great pain," a limp and "great difficulty."
According to the doctor, Ndiaye had not scheduled an operation but said he had arranged a payment plan for the anticipated surgery. "He was going to pay for the surgery himself," she said, "which is indicative of how badly he needed it."
Ndiaye fled Mauritania in 1999 due to government attacks targeting darker-skinned Mauritanians, according to Lubans-Otto. Ndiaye arrived in the U.S. in 2000, and after he was denied asylum, overstayed his visa to avoid returning to Mauritania.
According to his attorney, he is stateless, having been stripped of his citizenship by Mauritanian authorities because of his ethnicity despite being born in the country.
He was ordered removed from the U.S. in 2007, and his appeal of deportation was dismissed in 2009, according to court documents. He was eventually given an Order of Supervision and had regular check-ins with ICE before his arrest on Dec. 10, 2018.
After eight months of detention in facilities in Ohio, Louisiana and Arizona, ICE removed Ndiaye from its Florence, Arizona facility near Phoenix on Tuesday and sent him on a charter flight to Africa.
Ndiaye called his family in Columbus, Ohio, from Mauritania on Wednesday and later in the week from Senegal, according to a friend of the family. His partner declined to speak to NBC News.
Some deported Mauritanians have reported being tortured or imprisoned on their return.
"A 60-year-old man with a necrotic hip…no criminal history of any kind. I just don’t get it," said Lubans-Otto.
Omar Abdel-Baqui is an intern with NBC News Investigations. He is a Detroit, Michigan native and a junior at Wayne State University, where he studies journalism and Arabic. He has previously worked at the Detroit Free Press and was managing editor of Wayne State’s student newspaper.