Indianapolis, Ind., Jun 15, 2017 / 16:06 pm
Advocates for Chaldean Christians detained by federal immigration enforcement are in a race against time to halt their deportation back to war-torn Iraq.
“Today is also the feast of the Body of Christ. And this is where the Body of Christ is in pain, and it turns to the Body of Christ for healing,” Bishop Francis Kalabat of the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle of Detroit told CNA on Thursday, the feast of Corpus Christi.
“Today we are carrying our crosses, and those crosses are real,” he continued June 15. “And with every cross we have our Good Friday, but trusting in God we will also have our Easter Sunday.”
Beginning last Sunday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested dozens of Chaldean Christians in the Detroit metropolitan area, and most were quickly sent to detention at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown, Ohio. Some were taken from their homes in front of their families, and others were reportedly arrested in public places like restaurants.
An estimated 106 Iraqis have been arrested so far, Bishop Kalabat said, “the vast majority of them Chaldean Christian,” though there are reportedly Muslims among the detained.
ICE explained in a statement that the Chaldeans had previous criminal records including convictions for homicide, rape, and aggravated assault, had been ordered for removal by a federal judge, and were being deported to Iraq as part of an agreement between the U.S. and Iraq.
They entered the U.S. legally, some of them decades ago, with an eventual path to citizenship, but since then those who committed felonies would not have a legal path to citizenship.
Many of the crimes were committed decades ago, in the 1980s and '90s, Bishop Kalabat said, with one case “literally 30 years ago.” That man “did his time [in prison], paid the price, has cleared his name,” and is now married with four children.