Remains of Jimmy Aldaoud to Arrive in Detroit Tomorrow
The remains of Jimmy Aldaoud, the 41-year-old Michigan man who was deported to Iraq despite having never been there, will arrive by plane tomorrow in Detroit, Michigan. Aldaoud’s casket was sealed in the presence of authorities yesterday afternoon and, at the time of this press release, is in transit to the United States. Aldaoud had diabetes and suffered from schizophrenia and other mental health issues, and he was deported to Iraq where he could not receive adequate care for his medical conditions. Aldaoud also spoke no Arabic, had no family in Iraq and was deported without money or a change of clothes.
“Jimmy’s death was an avoidable, unnecessary and predictable tragedy,” Congressman Andy Levin said. “My only hope is that Jimmy’s family feels some sense of relief now that his body can be buried in his home country, next to his mother. Unfortunately, I believe we can expect to learn of more stories like Jimmy’s if deportations of vulnerable Iraqi nationals continue. For Jimmy, and for those facing life-threatening circumstances in Iraq, and for those who may soon, I will do all that is in my power to stop another death from happening.”
“Jimmy was a sweet person with a good heart,” said the three sisters of Jimmy Aldaoud. “He loved our mom, and we are comforted knowing that he will be laid to rest next to her. We hope Jimmy’s story opens people’s eyes and hearts to understanding that we should not be deporting people to their death overseas.”
Following Jimmy’s death, Congressman Levin’s office coordinated with the Aldaoud family, Iraqi and American government officials, funeral homes in Iraq and Michigan, and the Chaldean Community Foundation to secure the transfer of Jimmy’s remains. The Chaldean Community Foundation has paid for the costs incurred by the international transport of Jimmy Aldaoud’s remains.
A private funeral will take place next week.
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. Congressman Levin also made the case for halting deportations in USA Today following Jimmy Aldaoud’s death.