Congressman Andy Levin Statement on Death of Iraqi National Jimmy Aldaoud
Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09) today made the following statement:
“Jimmy Aldaoud, a Chaldean resident of Oakland County, should have never been sent to Iraq. For many reasons, it was clear that deporting Jimmy to a country where he had never been, had no identification, had no family, had no knowledge of geography or customs, did not speak the language and ultimately, had no access to medical care, would put his life in extreme danger. Jimmy died tragically yesterday of a diabetic crisis. His death could have and should have been prevented, as his deportation was essentially a death sentence.
“My Republican colleagues and I have repeatedly called on the Executive Branch to cease deportation of such vulnerable people. Now, someone has died. We cannot wait one more day for action. I will put my full effort into advancing the Deferred Removal for Iraqi Nationals Including Minorities Act to provide a legislative solution to this crisis and help prevent further deportations that will inevitably endanger more lives.
“I had the privilege of meeting Jimmy’s family earlier this year to hear firsthand their concerns for his safety, and about their efforts to ensure his care. Today, I grieve with them and recommit to preventing any further injustices.
“That begins with making sure that Jimmy can be afforded a proper Catholic burial. At the moment, Iraqi authorities will not release Jimmy’s body to a Catholic priest without extensive documentation from his family members in the U.S. This seems to be a cruel irony, indeed. I am working with the Iraqi government to make sure this process happens as quickly and smoothly as possible.”
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.