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Published: Sun, June 18, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Hearing Set On Suit To Stop Deportation Of Iraqi Nationals

Hearing Set On Suit To Stop Deportation Of Iraqi Nationals

Usama Hamama, an Iraqi-American supermarket manager and father of four, was dressing for church on Sunday morning when immigration authorities knocked on his door, handcuffed him and took him away.

The arrests of dozens of Iraqi Christians in southeastern MI by US immigration officials appear to be among the first roundups of people from Iraq who have long faced deportation, underscoring rising concerns in other immigrant communities.

Evangelical leader the Rev. Franklin Graham has said the arrests of hundreds of Chaldean Christians in Detroit and other cities nationwide is "very disturbing", and urged President Donald Trump to consider their fate if deported back to Iraq.

The arrangement has provoked fear and anger among Michigan's large Iraqi Christian community, which appeared to account for a large proportion of the arrests. "Our immigration policy shouldn't amount to a death sentence for anyone", said Kary Moss, ACLU director in MI.

Just last month Vice President Mike Pence told the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians that "Protecting and promoting religious freedom is a foreign policy priority of the Trump administration".

"Yesterday was a very unusual and painful day for our community in America", Bishop Francis Kalabat of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle of Detroit said in a statement on Monday.

"We are pleading with the government to reconsider", Manna said. "My daughter attends the University of MI - I will literally have to pull her out of her pharmacy program" because he pays the tuition.

In a statement, ICE confirmed Sunday's immigration sweep, but would not say how many were arrested.

Over the weekend, 114 Iraqi nationals were arrested in the Detroit area while 85 have been detained across the rest of the country over the past several weeks, said US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman Gillian Christensen.

In addition, many of those slated to be deported have already served sentences for their crimes, some of which were committed over 25 years ago. "They could be saying, 'Wait, we have been fighting to protect these people in their ancestral lands and now we are sending them back to those areas that we're not doing enough to protect?'" "They did their time". Deportations are pending for those who have been arrested, agency officials said. Kurdish Iraqis were also picked up in Nashville, Tennessee, activists and family members told Al Jazeera.

Most of the Iraqis are being held at a detention facility in Youngstown, Ohio.

Attorneys are scrambling to fight for the immigrants to prevent their removal.

Six U.S. representatives from MI on Thursday wrote to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly requesting a copy of the government's repatriation agreement with Iraq and for information about any safety measures planned for the arrested Iraqi nationals.

"What am I supposed to do?"

"If someone enters this country illegally and knows he's in the country illegally and is found to be in the country illegally and is ordered removed from the country and chooses to have a child in this country that's a USA citizen by virtue of birth, he put himself in that position, so ICE is not separating that family", said Homan. He was convicted of drug conspiracy charges as a 21-year-old and spent about 20 years behind bars.

"It's a movement for justice", she said. He takes care of us. What more do they want?

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