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US arrests nearly 200 Iraqis in deportation sweep

Reuters logo Reuters 15/06/2017
A group of women react as they talk about family members seized on Sunday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a rally outside the Mother of God Catholic Chaldean church in Southfield © REUTERS/Rebecca Cook A group of women react as they talk about family members seized on Sunday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a rally outside the Mother of God Catholic Chaldean church in Southfield

U.S. immigration authorities have arrested and moved to deport 199 Iraqi immigrants, mostly from the Detroit area, in the last three weeks after Iraq agreed to accept deportees as part of a deal removing it from President Donald Trump's travel ban, officials said on Wednesday.

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 © 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 In the Detroit area, 114 Iraqi nationals were arrested over the weekend, and 85 throughout the rest of the country over the past several weeks, Gillian Christensen, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Chaldean-American Nadia Al-Raviah stands with family members protesting against the seizure of her husband and brother Sunday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, in Southfield © REUTERS/Rebecca Cook Chaldean-American Nadia Al-Raviah stands with family members protesting against the seizure of her husband and brother Sunday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, in Southfield The actions came as part of the Trump administration's push to increase immigration enforcement and make countries, which have resisted in the past, take back nationals ordered deported from the United States.

Chaldean-American Lavrena Kenawa cries as she thinks about her uncle who was seized Sunday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a rally outside the Mother of God Catholic Chaldean church in Southfield © REUTERS/Rebecca Cook Chaldean-American Lavrena Kenawa cries as she thinks about her uncle who was seized Sunday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a rally outside the Mother of God Catholic Chaldean church in Southfield The crackdown on Iraqi immigrants followed the U.S. government's decision to drop Iraq from a list of Muslim-majority nations targeted by a revised version of Trump's temporary travel ban issued in March.

Steven Khoushaba, a Chaldean from Iraq, talks about the seizure of his brother Sunday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a rally outside the Mother of God Chaldean church in Southfield © REUTERS/Rebecca Cook Steven Khoushaba, a Chaldean from Iraq, talks about the seizure of his brother Sunday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a rally outside the Mother of God Chaldean church in Southfield The overwhelming majority of those arrested had criminal convictions for crimes including murder, rape, assault, kidnapping, burglary, drug trafficking, weapons violations and other offenses, Christensen said.

As of April 17, 2017, there were 1,444 Iraqi nationals with final orders for removal, she said. Since the March 12 agreement with Iraq regarding deportees, eight Iraqi nationals have been removed to Iraq.

Chaldean-American Lavrena Kenawa cries as she thinks about her uncle who was seized on Sunday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a rally outside the Mother of God Catholic Chaldean church in Southfield © REUTERS/Rebecca Cook Chaldean-American Lavrena Kenawa cries as she thinks about her uncle who was seized on Sunday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a rally outside the Mother of God Catholic Chaldean church in Southfield Dozens of Iraqi Chaldean Catholics in Detroit were among those targeted in the immigration sweeps, some of whom fear they will be killed if deported to their home country, immigration attorneys and family members said.

Chaldean-American Nadia Al-Raviah holds a sign protesting against the seizure of her husband and brother Sunday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, in Southfield © REUTERS/Rebecca Cook Chaldean-American Nadia Al-Raviah holds a sign protesting against the seizure of her husband and brother Sunday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, in Southfield “It is very worrisome that ICE has signaled its intention to remove Chaldean Christians to Iraq where their safety not only cannot be guaranteed, but where they face persecution and death for their religious beliefs,” Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean Community Foundation, said in a statement on Wednesday. 

Chaldean-American Mike Kajy stands with his son Miguel as he talks about the seizure of his brother and cousin by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a rally outside the Mother of God Chaldean church in Southfield © REUTERS/Rebecca Cook Chaldean-American Mike Kajy stands with his son Miguel as he talks about the seizure of his brother and cousin by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a rally outside the Mother of God Chaldean church in Southfield Kurdish Iraqis also were picked up in Nashville, Tennessee, attorneys, activists and family members said.

At least some of those arrested came to the United States as children, got in trouble and already served their sentences, according to immigration attorneys and activists. Some have lived in the United States so long they no longer speak Arabic.

Chaldean-American Lavrena Kenawa cries as she thinks about her uncle who was seized on Sunday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a rally outside the Mother of God Catholic Chaldean church in Southfield © REUTERS/Rebecca Cook Chaldean-American Lavrena Kenawa cries as she thinks about her uncle who was seized on Sunday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a rally outside the Mother of God Catholic Chaldean church in Southfield An Iraqi official previously said Iraqi diplomatic and consular missions would coordinate with U.S. authorities to issue travel documents for the deportees.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Tom Brown)

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