State Rep. Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham) on Wednesday called on House colleagues to formally oppose the mass deportation of Chaldeans living in Michigan.
Metro Detroit is home to the largest concentration of Chaldeans outside of Iraq. Over the last two years, more than 100 state residents of Iraqi and Chaldean-Assyrian descent have been arrested by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and threatened with deportation.
Manoogian is a third-generation Armenian American. Her great-grandparents came to America during the 1920s to escape the Armenian genocide.
“The United States has always been a beacon of hope and light to those who seek refuge from persecution of all kinds,” Manoogian, sponsor of House Resolution 71, said. “The Assyrian-Chaldean community and other religious minorities have faced systematic religious persecution and violence. And as a descendent of genocide survivors, this matter hits home for me.
“Removing these Michigan residents from their homes and communities and deporting them to Iraq will put their lives in danger. The Chaldean community is invaluable to the fabric of this state and I am grateful to my colleagues who joined me in standing up for the safety of these Michigan residents.”
Iraqis with standing removal orders are no longer protected from deportation if an immigration court hasn’t heard their case, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on April 2 responding to Hamama v. Adducci. The ruling means that they could be deported at any time.
U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.) has helped lead the charge against deportations at the federal level.
Nadine Yousif Kalasho, a representative from CODE Legal Aid, expressed her organization’s support for Manoogian’s resolution in its continued efforts to provide high quality legal advocacy and assistance to those in need.
“For a century, Chaldeans have fled persecution in Iraq and surrounding countries,” said Kalasho. “They have become a fundamental piece of this great state. Deporting them, a majority for petty crimes, will cause irreparable harm to a community that has already experienced multiple genocides. We’re thankful that the legislative body of Michigan understands the severe actions that this administration plans to undertake.”