Jony Jarjiss is the latest Iraqi Christian in Michigan to be detained.
In June, more than a hundred Chaldeans were rounded up, detained, and are now being held in a detention center in Ohio, awaiting possible deportation.
On Thursday, the 57-year-old Saginaw man had a scheduled routine meeting with immigration officials in Detroit.
“It was about a quarter to 10 a.m. We waited and we waited and we waited. After check-in we waited about six and a half hours,” said Randy Babi, attorney.
Jarjiss and his attorneys tried to stay positive.
“An I.C.E. officer came out and motioned for my client to come back towards the door leading to the back of the I.C.E. facility,” said Edward Bajoka, attorney.
“Mr. Bajoka yelled, ‘Are you detaining him?’ They said, ‘We cannot answer any questions and slammed the door, and nearly slammed it on my hand,” said Babi.
“After he shut the door, I could hear the handcuffs being put on in the background,” said Bajoka.
Jarjiss has lived in Saginaw since 1993. He came to the U.S. on a temporary fiancée visa. The relationship ended, but he stayed – fearful of what would happen to him if he returned to Iraq.
Even though deportation was a possibility:
“During the 90’s, the U.S. and Iraq had no diplomatic relationship because of the gulf war,” said Bajoka.
It never happened.
Jarijiss’ main attorney represents several Chaldean detainees. He says Jarjiss is the only one without a prior criminal record.
“Why he was targeted in particular – I couldn’t tell you. I don’t know. I do know that he does not have any criminal history. I ran his background check every which way I could,” said Bajoka. “There’s nothing there.”
“We even spoke to people who’ve known Jony. We can’t find anything having to do with any kind of criminal convictions at all,” said Badi.
In a recent phone call with their client:
“He begged us not to leave him there,” said Badi. “He said ‘Please don’t forget about me. Please don’t leave me here, please don’t leave me here, ‘ Those words have reverberated in my mind ever since.”