ICE's arrests of Iraqi Christians spark fear among Detroit's Chaldeans

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's arrest of Iraqi Christians in metro Detroit over the weekend has sparked fear among the Chaldeans living in the area that those detained would be deported to their home country where they are being persecuted.

(REUTERS / Rebecca Cook)Chaldean-Americans protest against the seizure of family members Sunday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a rally outside the Mother of God Chaldean church in Southfield, Michigan, U.S., June 12, 2017.

On June 11, ICE detained 47-year old Baghdad native Moayad Barash along with more than 30 other people who now face being deported. ICE has released a statement that explained that the move is part of Iraq's agreement with the U.S. to "accept a number of Iraqi nationals subject to orders of removal," CNN detailed.

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For Cynthia, Barash's 18-year-old daughter, the arrest only puts her father one step closer to danger as Christians in Iraq are largely being persecuted. Although her father was previously caught and charged with possession of marijuana around 30 years ago, she said he did not do anything wrong in the past year.

Many of the Iraqis that ICE arrested on Sunday have been residing in the U.S. for several years now, and several of them were previously convicted for minor crimes. ICE said that a federal immigration judge ruled that the detained individuals were "ineligible for any form of relief under U.S. law" and therefore ordered them to be removed from the country.

On June 13, ICE's acting head Thomas D. Homan slammed critics of the deportations and said illegal entry into the U.S. is a federal crime. He also stated the illegal migrants --- not law enforcement officials --- are to blame for the separation of families resulting from the deportations, the Washington Examiner reported.

"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 U.S. citizen by virtue of birth, he put himself in that position, so ICE is not separating that family," said Homan.

Meanwhile, the Minority Humanitarian Foundation, a group that was created to defend Islamic State victims, is planning to file a lawsuit to halt the deportations. Its president, Mark Arabo, said some of the detained Iraqi Christians have issues such as parole violations, but most of them are in the U.S. legally.

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