Chaldaean, Evangelical Leaders Cite Dangers of Potential Deportations to Iraq
Click here for a recording of today’s press call.
July 6, 2017
DETROIT— The Trump administration cannot overlook the danger to Chaldean Christians in Iraq and should reconsider deportation plans, faith and security leaders said on a press call today.
Chaldean and evangelical Christian leaders, as well as a former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), emphasized the importance of protecting Chaldeans from the persecution and threats they likely would face in Iraq.
A federal judge in Michigan is weighing whether to extend beyond Monday a stay of removal for Iraqis. More than 1,000 Chaldean Christians nationwide have been arrested by ICE agents and are being processed for removal to Iraq, which cannot guarantee their safety.
Today’s call followed a June 19 letter from evangelical leaders calling on the Trump administration to “exercise the discretion available under law to defer the deportation of Chaldeans who pose no threat to U.S. public safety.”
The following are quotes from speakers on today’s call:
Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Most of those who have been detained do not present any danger to society. Threatening them with deportation puts them at great risk because of the deterioration of human rights in Iraq. The administration has good reason to exercise discretion: Our law requires that we not return people to places where they would be persecuted.”
Martin Manna, President, Chaldean Community Foundation:
“The Chaldean community here is very concerned about those who have been rounded up for deportation. Iraq cannot guarantee the safety of these Christians and many face persecution and death for their religious beliefs. This is not like deporting Canadians back to Canada. There is no homeland remaining for the Christian community in Iraq because of the ongoing persecution. We implore the administration to stay these removals until such time as Iraq can provide guarantees of safety for these Christians.”
John Sandweg, Former Acting Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE):
“The overwhelming majority of this population poses little or no threat to the United States. More important is the outside threat of persecution to this population. The use of discretion in this case is more than appropriate. When you’re talking about 30-year-old nonviolent offenses, in no way, shape or form does it make sense to remove them at this time.”
Matthew Soerens, U.S. Director of Church Mobilization, World Relief, and Co-author, “Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis”:
“The situation Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq face right now is very severe. When an individual clearly presents no threat to public safety in the U.S. — but their deportation would be likely to result in them being persecuted, tortured, or even killed — I call on our government to use its discretion not to carry out these deportations.”