The Iraqi government will return the remains of an Oakland County man who died there this week after being deported, according to an announcement from U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.).
Jimmy Aldaoud was an Iraqi national who lived most of his life in the United States. He died from complications of diabetes this week, months after being deported by the Trump administration in a sweep that has targeted around 1,400 Iraqis nationwide.
In a statement, Levin’s office said, “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,” and that “the process of transferring the remains is expected to be completed later this month.”
“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,” Levin said. “To honor his memory, we still must do everything we can to prevent another death by deportation.”
Levin and U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Midland) earlier this year introduced legislation that would have stopped the deportation of Iraqis like Aldaoud. On Thursday, Moolenaar said, “This never should have happened, and no one should be sent to a country where they are going to be persecuted for their faith,” and that “Congressman Levin and I will be working to move our bill forward in the House, but we also believe the Administration could end this policy on its own.”
U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) also joined Levin, Moolenaar, and U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) in a June letter urging Vice President Mike Pence directly to take action to stop the deportations. Aldaoud was a Chaldean Christian, an Iraqi population that faces widespread persecution.
Through Levin’s office, Aldaoud’s sister, Rita Bolis, said, “Our family’s wish would have been for Jimmy to return alive to the only home he ever knew and not in a casket. … We are comforted that he will be laid to rest next to our mom.”