Update: ICE Rounds Up Dozens of Metro Detroit Iraqi Immigrants with Criminal Records


Update, 6:20 p.m. Monday: The Arab American Civil Rights League issues a statement on the federal detentions:

In a sweep to continue efforts to deport Iraqi nationals with criminal records, hundreds of people have arrested in Metro Detroit this past weekend. The arrests have taken place in Dearborn, Warren and Sterling Heights and include Chaldeans and Muslims among those arrested. Similar sweeps have taken place across the country.

This follows the national trend, where immigration arrests have risen this year with the election of President Donald Trump, who campaigned on tightening immigration enforcement. In January, the issued an executive order denying federal funds to cities giving sanctuary to illegal immigrants and issued the highly contested travel ban, which is being challenged in multiple districts across the country.

These acts are truly disappointing and disgraceful, particularly as many Iraqis subject to deportation face a significant risk of persecution by foreign terrorist groups upon their removal to Iraq. Many of these individuals have already paid their dues to society due to acts committed decades ago, who are now punished again and being torn apart from their families.

Update, 4:10 p.m. Monday: Federal immigration officials says that Iraqi immigrants detained Sunday in Metro Detroit have criminal backgrounds and are to be removed under a deal with Iraq, the Detroit Free Press reports.

"As a result of recent negotiations between the U.S. and Iraq, Iraq has recently agreed to accept a number of Iraqi nationals subject to orders of removal," says Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for the Michigan office of ICE (Immigration Customs and Enforcement), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

"As part of ICE's efforts to process the backlog of these individuals, the agency recently arrested a number of Iraqi nationals, all of whom had criminal convictions for crimes including homicide, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping, burglary, drug trafficking, robbery, sex assault, weapons violations and other offenses." . . .

Walls did not say how many Iraqis were detained Sunday. Attorneys representing some of the men detained gave estimates ranging from 90 to more than 300. They were taken to a detention facility in Youngstown, Ohio.

Original news reports were that it was only Chaldeans, who are Christians, who were arrested.  But subsequent reports say those arrested included Muslims.

Original article, Monday morning:


Chaldean community members are among those who voted for Donald Trump, believing he's look out for their best interest. Now, some question that.

About 40 Chaldeans from Metro Detroit were detained Sunday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and face possible deportation, leaders in the Chaldean community say, Elisha Anderson and Niraj Warikoo write in the Detroit Free Press.

Some of those held came to the U.S. years ago and have unclear immigration status. Some served time for crimes -- including misdemeanors -- committed when they were younger. 

More than 20 people, besides the folks over the weekend, were picked up locally over the last month. 

Chaldeans, who are Catholics, worry about persecution and possible death if returned to Muslim-led Iraq. 

"I voted for Trump thinking he would protect ethnic minorities," Shantal Hanna, whose husband was detained, tells WDIV. "Now it's blowing up in my face."

"If you go to Iraq and pass by ISIS, they are going to get killed," Junior Seiba, whose cousin was detained, told the station. 

“ICE regularly conducts targeted enforcement operations during which additional resources and personnel are dedicated to apprehending removable aliens,” ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said in a statement Sunday evening.

“The focus of these targeted enforcement operations is consistent with the routine, targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations Teams on a daily basis.”

Joseph Kassab, founder and president of the Iraqi Christians Advocacy and Empowerment Institute in West Bloomfield, says families are sobbing and crying for their loved ones because "they don’t know what their destiny is.”

Read more:  Detroit Free Press

Email Signup
Send us your email address and we’ll send you the best of Detroit!