Chaldean Christian Deported by Trump Administration Dies in Iraq

A Chaldean Christian immigrant who was deported from Michigan to Iraq has reportedly died because he was unable to obtain insulin to treat his diabetes, drawing fire from critics of the Trump administration who charge that the death is a result of disregard for the well-being of deportees.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the man, Jimmy Aldaoud, was deported in June even though he had not lived in Iraq since he was an infant and didn’t speak Arabic.

Officials said that when he was less than a year old, his parents fled to Greece, where they applied for refugee status in the U.S. The status was granted, and Aldaoud was raised in the United States, where he struggled with both diabetes and mental health issues.

On Wednesday (Aug. 7), Michigan state Rep. Mari Manoogian posted a video that she said was Aldaoud, 41, describing his dire situation roughly two weeks after he was deported.

“I begged them — I said, ‘Please, I’ve never seen that country,” Aldaoud says in the clip, referring to immigration officials. “However, they forced me. … I’m here now. I don’t understand the language. I was sleeping in the street. I’m diabetic — I take insulin shots. I’ve been throwing up. … Trying to find something to eat.”

According to Politico, Edward Bajoka, an immigration attorney who says he is close to Aldaoud’s family, published a Facebook post on Wednesday in which he claimed Aldaoud’s death was connected to inability to obtain insulin in Baghdad.

Aldaoud, who bore what appeared to be a cross tattoo on his arm, belonged to the ancient subset of Catholicism called Chaldeans, whose historic homeland stretches from Turkey and Georgia into northern Iraq and Jordan.

Shortly after President Trump issued his controversial travel ban in 2017, Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained hundreds of Iraqis in and around Detroit, many of them Chaldeans. While approximately 800 of the roughly 1,400 Iraqis with final orders of removal have criminal records (Aldaoud’s record included disorderly conduct and larceny of a minor vehicle), many of the infractions were minor or years old. Hundreds have no criminal history at all.

The ACLU successfully stymied initial efforts to deport the detainees, and several have won their immigration cases. Lawyers and advocates argued that Chaldeans who returned to Iraq risked torture and death at the hands of groups such as ISIS and that deporting them amounted to a “death sentence.”

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Source: Religion News Service