US arrests nearly 200 Iraqis in deportation sweep

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Immigration authorities are arresting Iraqi immigrants with records of serious crimes after Iraq agreed to accept them to be kept out of Trump's travel ban.

"These are Christians that will be slaughtered as they arrive in Iraq", Mark Arabo, president of the Minority Humanitarian Foundation, told CNN.

"The vast majority of those taken into custody are now detained at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown, Ohio", ICE said.

At a November 6 rally at Freedom Hill in Sterling Heights, President Donald Trump elaborated on several planks of his proposed immigration policy.

The sweep drew criticism from local Chaldean groups claiming that the detainees have served their punishment and numerous offenses were minor and/or occurred decades ago. "These people came here legally, and at some point they might have gotten in trouble with the law". The crackdown on the Chaldeans has also caused grave fears among other groups of immigrants, who came to the USA hoping to receive sanctuary from the violence they faced back home and to live peaceful lives.

"Over the past few days, we have heard disturbing reports of members of our community being stopped, questioned, and even harassed as part of an increased effort to enforce deportation orders for individuals who had previously been convicted of criminal activity", Barry wrote in the letter to Joshua Jack, a New Orleans-based community relations officer for ICE. "I don't know what to tell my kids", Sylvia, a 44-year-old housewife and mother of three, said through sobs.

"It was a major sweep", said Jajonie-Damon, an immigration attorney. He said he is representing 15 of the detainees, and he confirmed that at least one of them is from Sterling Heights.

Hamama, who received a deportation order for a gun charge more than 30 years ago, was one of scores of Iraqi nationals picked up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in sweeping raids in MI and Tennessee during the past week as ICE processes a "backlog" of about 1,400 Iraqis the United States wants to deport because they at some point committed a crime. When ISIS took over Nineveh province, and the city of Mosul specifically, in June 2014, Christians fled in ever greater numbers.

"If they are returned to Iraq, this is a life-threatening situation", she said. He hopes they will be sent to a country other than one in the Middle East, where he said they face a most certain death.

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"The sheer numbers of people who are speaking out, the gravitas of the organizations that have come together, all create a strong voice that I believe will be listened to", Budaj said.

Many who have been arrested, like Hamama, who spent a year in prison for pointing a gun at another man during a road-rage incident, completed their sentences years ago and had been checking in regularly with immigration officials, as required.

"Basically, he has been living a life trouble-free for dozens of years since the incident, and that's a really long time ago", she said.

Concerns in the community began rising in April, when a charter flight left MI with eight Iraqis aboard, including a Chaldean.

Family members who spoke at the rally confirmed that their loved ones are aware of the risks they face if they are deported.

ICE insisted the detainees "pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security".

ICE adds in a news release that it "will not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement".

"All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States", he said.

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