A coffin arrived in Detroit from Iraq on Friday with the remains of 41-year-old Jimmy Aldaoud, whose death this month prompted bipartisan efforts to curb the Trump administration’s deportation of Iraqi nationals.
Mr. Aldaoud, whose parents were Iraqi, was born in a refugee camp in Greece, entered the United States legally in 1979 when he was 6 months old and grew up in the Detroit area.
His life was unsettled: He battled depression and diabetes and also had bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. He was in and out of jail, with at least 20 criminal convictions over the past two decades, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
After being arrested on a larceny charge, he was deported to Iraq on June 2 with very little insulin, no money and no knowledge of Arabic. His sisters did not know he had been deported until he called from the city of Najaf.
Mr. Aldaoud was found dead in a Baghdad apartment on Aug. 6 after days of vomiting blood and begging to return to the United States. He died of a “diabetic crisis,” according to Representative Andy Levin, a Democrat who represents the Michigan district where Mr. Aldaoud used to live.
“Jimmy was a sweet person with a good heart,” Mr. Aldaoud’s sisters said in a statement. “We hope Jimmy’s story opens people’s eyes and hearts to understanding that we should not be deporting people to their death overseas.”
Mr. Levin coordinated with government officials and funeral homes in Iraq and Michigan to secure the return of Mr. Aldaoud’s remains. A private funeral will take place next week for Mr. Aldaoud, who was a Chaldean Catholic. The Chaldean Community Foundation, a social services organization based in Michigan, paid for his remains to be transported to the United States.
In December 2018, a federal appeals court overturned a judge’s decision to block the Trump administration’s push to deport Iraqi nationals, like Mr. Aldaoud (whose name is sometimes spelled Al-Daoud), Mr. Levin wrote in a USA Today op-ed.
Michigan’s 9th District, the region Mr. Levin represents, has the largest Iraqi-born community of any congressional district in the country, according to census data.
“Jimmy’s death was an avoidable, unnecessary and predictable tragedy,” Mr. Levin said in a statement. “My only hope is that Jimmy’s family feels some sense of relief now that his body can be buried in his home country, next to his mother.”
In April, just days before ICE could begin a mass removal of Iraqi nationals, Mr. Levin sent a letter signed by 20 lawmakers to the Department of Homeland Security and ICE requesting a halt to the deportations.
The next month, Mr. Levin and John Moolenaar, a Republican representative from Michigan, introduced a bipartisan bill that would provide Iraqi nationals with two years of relief from deportation and ensure each of their cases could be heard individually in immigration court.
Then in late June, three weeks after Mr. Aldaoud was deported, Mr. Levin and Mr. Moolenaar sent a letter to Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, seeking help on behalf of Iraqi nationals living in the United States, including Chaldean Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities.
“Unfortunately, I believe we can expect to learn of more stories like Jimmy’s if deportations of vulnerable Iraqi nationals continue,” Mr. Levin said.
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs contributed reporting.
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SOURCE : https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/31/us/jimmy-aldaoud-iraq-deport.html