"Chaldeans have been targeted by ISIS and subjected to genocide, as have other religious minorities. Their deportation represents a death sentence should they be deported to Iraq or Syria," Eshoo said in an email statement to CNA.
"It has also been reported that the individuals have criminal records. If the offenses they committed have already been 'paid for' by serving an appropriate sentence, facing a death sentence via deportation is disproportionate and unjust," she added.
Bishop Kalabat wrote that “The Church does not oppose justice, all hardened criminals that are a danger to society should be picked up. Many who were picked up are not hardened criminals but for the last decades have been great citizens.”
Regarding Sunday’s arrests, the local Church has been in touch with the State Department, members of Congress, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the matter, the bishop added.
Chaldeans are an Iraqi indigenous community and speak Aramaic. The Chaldean Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church which uses the East Syrian rite.
The Chaldean Catholic community in Detroit dates back to the early 20th century, and an apostolic exarchate was established in 1982. There are around 150,000 Chaldeans in the Detroit area, which is the largest Chaldean diaspora community living outside the Middle East, according to the Chaldean Community Foundation.
Around 30,000 refugees were re-settled in Michigan since the Iraq War began in 2003, and more Syrian refugees are expected to be re-settled there in the coming years, the foundation noted.
Martin Manna, president of the locally-based Chaldean Community Foundation, told the Detroit Free Press that deporting the Chaldeans to Iraq “is like a death sentence.”
The U.S. State Department declared in March of 2016 that the Islamic State had committed genocide against Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria.
The fight to dislodge the Islamic State from Iraq is ongoing as parts of Mosul are still under the group's control. Although the villages of many Christians in northern Iraq have been liberated, many are still not yet able to return to their homes. Many families are still dependent on aid groups for their livelihood.
There have been efforts in Congress to designate groups targeted for genocide, like Christians in Iraq and Syria, as P-2 refugees, which would expedite their resettlement process in the U.S. as refugees.
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Contrary to rumors, the local Church had not signed off on any of the deportations, Bishop Kalabat insisted in a Facebook post on Monday.
“It has been rumored that our Church signed documents regarding the deportation issue. To my capacity, as a permanent member of the church synod, I would like to formally state that this is NOT true, and that was no signed document or any type of agreement made with the Iraqi government or anyone else, that would allow the deportation of Chaldeans to Iraq,” he stated. “There was no such thing discussed, signed, or issued.”
The arrests follow a spike in ICE immigration arrests that began with President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration at the beginning of his presidential term.
In the first 100 days after that order was signed, ICE reported in May that immigration arrests were up 40 percent in comparison with that same time period in 2016.