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Chaldean Christians Risking Deportation Cry Out for Help from American Church

Immigration Rally AP
Immigration Rally AP

Some Chaldean Christians and those who support them want to know why more American Christians are not protesting the potential deportation of hundreds of Chaldeans to Iraq from the United States, Religion News Service reports.

Many compare deportation to a "death sentence."

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested around 200 Chaldeans in recent weeks, including more than 100 in the Detroit area earlier this month. Chaldeans are a part of Iraqi Christian denominations born in the early days of Christianity.

The president of the Chaldean Community Foundation, Martin Manna, said he's troubled by evangelicals and others who have not spoken out against the possible deportation of Chaldeans but have been vocal about the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

"They could be doing a lot more," he said. "They could be saying, 'Wait, we have been fighting to protect these people in their ancestral lands and now we are sending them back to those areas that we're not doing enough to protect?'"

Evangelist Franklin Graham issued a statement last week about the arrests of the Chaldeans, after RNS reached out to him for comment.

"I find it very disturbing what I have read about Chaldean Christians being rounded up by ICE for possible deportation," Graham said in a statement. "I would encourage the president to have someone investigate these cases thoroughly."

"I understand a policy of deporting people who are here illegally and have broken the law," he continued. "I don't know all of the details, but I would encourage our president to give great consideration to the threat to lives of Christians in countries like Iraq."

Iraq was among seven countries on a White House travel ban, but in an agreement to be removed from the ban, it has agreed to accept deportees who are living in the United States without proper documentation.

"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," an ICE statement reads. 

"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," the statement continued.

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