A 41-year-old Detroit man named Jimmy Aldaoud has died, according to the ACLU. Aldaoud had spent most of his life in the U.S. after being born to Chaldean Christian parents in a refugee camp in Greece.
Although Aldaoud’s parents are Iraqi, he had never been to the country, had no family or friends there and did not speak Arabic. It appears that his death was related to him being unable to obtain insulin for his diabetes. A video posted to social media in the days before he died found Aldaoud homeless and vomiting. There were also reports he may have been dealing with mental illness.
“Immigration agents pulled me over and said I’m going to Iraq,” Aldaoud says in the video. “I said, ‘I’ve never been there. I’ve been in this country my whole life, since pretty much birth’ … They refused to listen to me.” A family friend of Aldaoud’s said he and his family arrived in the U.S. when he was six months old.
“I begged them,” he said of his experience with ICE. “I said, ‘Please, I’ve never seen that country, I’ve never been there.’ However, they forced me.”
This video is of Jimmy taken in Baghdad two weeks after his deportation. I’m sharing with permission from Jimmy’s lawyers. Jimmy has been in the US since he was 6mo old—he was born in a refugee camp in Greece to Iraqi Christian parents. RIP#JimmyAldaoud https://t.co/1182x6GRAY pic.twitter.com/KF8RUOtKiH
— Mari Manoogian (@MariManoogian) August 8, 2019
“Jimmy Aldaoud … should have never been sent to Iraq,” Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) said in a written statement. “My Republican colleagues and I have repeatedly called on the executive branch to cease deportation of such vulnerable people. Now, someone has died.”
The Trump administration has ramped up deportation efforts in Detroit, where hundreds of Chaldean Christians have been begging not to be sent back to Iraq, where they fear persecution and possible death in one of the world’s most dangerous countries for Christians.
Chaldean Christians facing deportation have spoken with reporters about feeling betrayed by the Trump administration. Many of them voted for Trump in the 2016 election following his campaign promises to take the plight persecuted Christians seriously.
“There’s a tremendous amount of anxiety in the community,” Martin Manna of the Chaldean Community Foundation told Politico. “Iraq’s not a safe place for many of the people who are being sent back.”