The U.S. government says almost 5,000 Somali nationals in the U.S. face deportation orders.

The U.S. government says almost 5,000 Somali nationals in the U.S. face deportation orders.

“As of April 1, 2017, there were 4,801 Somali nationals with final orders of removal,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Brendan Raedy said Tuesday. “As of that same date, 237 Somali nationals have been removed to Somalia in fiscal year 2017.”

( Urban Somalia) -The statement confirmed information VOA obtained from Somalia’s U.S. ambassador 10 days ago.

Ambassador Ahmed Isse Awad told VOA’s Somali service his embassy had learned that U.S. immigration agents were planning to deport about 4,000 Somali nationals now living in the United States.

Most of them have committed crimes. “ICE continues to focus its limited enforcement resources toward individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,” Raedy said.

He added, however, that any immigrant who is in the U.S. illegally is subject to deportation. “All of those in violation of immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”

Most of the Somalis facing final orders of removal are not in detention centers and are unlikely to be removed in the near term because their cases are making their way through the system.

ICE would not confirm any upcoming flights. “Due to operational security, I cannot confirm removal flights until they have been completed,” an ICE official told VOA.

Since Somalia’s embassy in Washington reopened in November 2015, the ambassador said, about 170 Somali immigrants who either ran afoul of U.S. law or had their asylum applications rejected have been deported to Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

Most of those previously deported had applied for but been denied political asylum in the U.S., he added. Another group of Somali applicants whose requests for asylum have been denied are now in detention centers or prisons, awaiting deportation.