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200 Iraqis Arrested by U.S. Law Enforcement

First Posted: Jun 15, 2017 11:42 AM EDT
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Iraqi Fear of Deportation from the U.S.

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In compliance with a March agreement between the United States and Iraq, which drops the latter from the list of countries embedded in President Donald Trump's temporary travel ban, officials detained and plan to deport 114 Iraqi immigrants from the Metro Detroit area over the weekend. This is supplemented by the 85 detainees already in custody throughout the rest of the U.S. since late spring.

The arrangement to remove Iraqi nationals from the country arrives on the heels of the Iraq government agreeing to accept deportees as a condition of its removal from the Muslim-majority travel ban. Reports indicate that among the individuals arrested are members of the Iraqi Chaldean Catholic community, an indigenous group historically based in northern Iraq, and Kurdish Iraqis.

Consisting of just a small portion of the entire Iraqi population, members of these minority groups have been subject to threats and acts of physical violence in the past. Attorneys representing the detainees and their families say there are legitimate fears of death and persecution should these individuals be returned to Iraq.

Crackdowns on Iraqi nationals residing in the U.S. have been carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. Gillian Christensen, a spokesperson for ICE, stated that most of the crimes committed by the detained individuals include offenses such as murder, rape, drug-trafficking, and weapons violations. Immigration lawyers, however, counter that their clients' convictions were served and they should no longer be punished for old crimes.

The inability of U.S. immigration officials to guarantee the safety of Chaldean Christians and Kurdish Iraqis leaves many, including Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean Community Foundation, worried about the move to push for deportations. Nevertheless, U.S. officials are receiving the cooperation of Iraqi diplomatic and consular missions to coordinate the deportation of Iraqis from the country.

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