BREAKING: Congressman Levin Secures Return of Jimmy Aldaoud’s Remains to the U.S.
Following the death of Jimmy Aldaoud, an Iraqi national who was deported to Iraq and died of a diabetic crisis as a result of his deportation, Congressman Andy Levin today announced that Jimmy’s remains will be returned to the United States.
Through the facilitation of Congressman Levin’s office, the relevant Iraqi and American officials have initiated the process of transferring Aldaoud’s remains to Michigan. The process of transferring the remains is expected to be completed later this month.
“Jimmy’s deportation was a death sentence,” Congressman Andy Levin said. “Ensuring the safe return of Jimmy’s body to the United States is the least I could do for Jimmy’s family as they grieve during this tragedy. Now, per Jimmy’s family’s wishes, he can receive a proper Catholic funeral and be buried next to his mother in Michigan, the only home he has ever known. I’m glad that my office could give Jimmy’s family this small sense of solace, but to honor his memory, we still must do everything we can to prevent another death by deportation.”
“Our family’s wish would have been for Jimmy to return alive to the only home he ever knew and not in a casket,” said Rita Bolis, sister of Jimmy Aldaoud. “We are comforted that he will be laid to rest next to our mom.”
The Chaldean Community Foundation has agreed to cover the costs associated with repatriating Jimmy’s body.
“We are very thankful for Congressman Levin and his staff’s effort to bring Jimmy’s remains home,” said Martin Manna, President of the Chaldean Community Foundation. “We are hopeful that this will bring some comfort to the family and to the Chaldean community in this very difficult time. We also ask the administration to take immediate action to stop these inhumane deportations.”
Congressman Levin has been working for months to prevent the deportation of Iraqi nationals.
In a letter sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in June, Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09) and Congressman John Moolenaar (MI-04) requested assistance to prevent the detention and deportation of Iraqi nationals living the United States, including numerous Chaldean Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities.
In May, Congressmen Levin and Moolenaar introduced the Deferred Removal for Iraqi Nationals Including Minorities Act, a bipartisan bill that would provide two years of relief from deportation for Iraqi nationals with orders of deportation. This would allow each Iraqi national to have their case heard individually in immigration court.
In April, Congressmen Levin and Moolenaar led a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) signed by more than 20 bipartisan lawmakers from around the country requesting deferral of detention and deportation of affected Iraqi nationals.
Following the announcement that the heads of both DHS and ICE were departing, the congressmen, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence requesting intervention based on his history of advocating for persecuted Christians abroad.
According to U.S. Census data, Michigan’s 9th District, represented by Congressman Levin, has the largest Iraqi-born community of any congressional district in the country.
Congressman Levin also penned an op-ed in The Detroit News making the case for deferral and detailing the dangers faced by Iraqis should they be deported.