U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have arrested 199 Iraqi nationals as part of a sweep aimed specifically at immigrants from the war-torn nation.
Most of the people detained by ICE were living in the Detroit area and were rounded up over the course of last weekend. An additional 85 Iraqis were gathered from various locations across the country over the past few weeks.
The surge follows an agreement reached between the Iraqi government and the United States. Iraq will repatriate deported nationals in exchange for being removed from President Donald Trump‘s temporary travel ban. Since enacted via executive order, the ban has faced a pushback, much of which citing Trump’s comments during the 2016 presidential election campaign which called for a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States.
Defenders of the Trump administration’s hard-line approach, however, may find some solace in ICE’s recent deportation efforts: dozens of the Iraqis targeted for removal in Detroit are not Muslims at all, but Christians who are members of the Chaldean Catholic Church.
ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen stated that most of those targeted in the deportation sweep had convictions for violent crimes such as murder, rape, assault, kidnapping, burglary, drug trafficking, and weapons violations.
Said to face a “death sentence” upon their return to Iraq due to being targeted by the Islamic State, fellow Detroit-area Chaldeans now are rallying to stop the deportations and recently received the help of the ACLU, which has filed a lawsuit on their behalf.
Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean Community Foundation, released a statement yesterday which reads:
“It is very worrisome that ICE has signaled its intention to remove Chaldean Christians to Iraq where their safety not only cannot be guaranteed, but where they face persecution and death for their religious beliefs.”
[image via ICE]
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