The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is rounding up a large number of Iraqi Christians; and has been met with widespread criticism towards President Donald J. Trump.
Trump previously pledged to protect such communities from being persecuted in the Middle East.
Iraqi Christians and other immigrants were seized by the dozens over the weekend during a series of raids by ICE. Many took place in Michigan; which is a state known for its large Middle Eastern population. Those arrested are facing the risk of being deported back to their home countries; and Trump had previously criticized some of those countries as being hostile towards Christians.
Many of those detained face charges that are years old; and for some who haven’t committed any crimes over the past two or three decades. Steve Oshana; an activist and Assyrian-Christian, is the executive director of A Demand for Action. This is a non-profit Organization that assists at-risk religious and ethnic communities in the Middle East. They have directed attacks towards Trump; due to him allowing authorities to deport Christians back to countries such as Iraq, where the United States has stated a “Genocide” against the Christian faith was occurring.
“Someone like the president of the United States has to step in, he has promised in the past that he was going to protect our community, but the people that are being sent back now are being sent back as a direct deal between the United States and the Iraqi government to accept these people,” Steve Oshana; who claims that some of those arrested hadn’t been committing any crimes at all, told the Catholic news outlet EWTN on Monday.
“Someone like the president of the United States has to step in, he has promised in the past that he was going to… https://t.co/UgM2eBrfbK
— A Demand For Action (@DemandForAction) June 13, 2017
ICE stated these raids were “consistent with the routine, targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations Teams on a daily basis,” but scenes of chaos broke out near Detroit’s ICE office as buses removed the suspects; according to Michigan’s Local 4 News. Protesters claim as many as 80 people had been apprehended in the area; assembled outside the detention centers, and shouting slogans which accuse ICE of racism… The protesters even attempted to block the buses from leaving; RT reported. A local lawyer; Wisam Naoum, said Sundan that the ICE officers were deliberate in waiting to take actions for when the local Chaldean Catholic Assyrian community gathered for mass.
“This is a deliberate attack on the Chaldean Catholic Assyrian community of Detroit by the Administration. They waited until Sunday when our community would be going to church and gathering with their families and have rounded up to 40-60 community members,” Naoum said in a Facebook Post.
Naoum states he had heard reported of suspects getting sent to prisons; as far away as Ohio, and that there were some final orders received in order to deport individuals back to Mosul. Mosul is the former Iraqi stronghold of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) Daesh; which now serves as the venue for violent showdowns between jihadists and the Iraqi government-led offensive. The ISIS Daesh origins are in Iraq’s Sunni Muslim jihadist movement; and the ultraconservative group took control of up to 45 percent of the country in 2014, who subjected Shiite Muslims, Christians and ethnic minorities to mass torture, executions, and enslavement.
Protesters from Michigan’s Catholic community demonstrated against this seizure of family members by ICE agents during a rally outside of the Mother of God Chaldean Church in Southfield, Michigan; on June 12th, 2017. Despite overwhelming victories by Iraqi forces against the ISIS Daesh in Iraq; Christian protesters claims that being sent back to the country amid the current instability would effectively constitute a “Death Sentence”.
But; Trump had tweeted this in January:
Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2017
“Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!” – Trump’s Tweet.
The ISIS Daesh infiltration of Iraq led Trump to add the war-torn nation to a list of countries he sought to ban all travel and immigration from; shortly after the Republican leader took office earlier this year. The travel ban measure was struck down by a federal court shortly thereafter. Trump then resubmitted the order; this time omitting Iraq, since he had faced criticism from the Iraqi government and community both, who are deeply involved in the fight against ISIS Daesh. In exchange for this; the Iraqi government reportedly agreed to accept Iraqi nationals who were designated for deportation by the United States, Politico reported.
Despite the absence of Iraq; the second inception of the travel ban was also blocked, and has most recently been struck down again in a federal appeals on Monday.