Chaldeans in metro Detroit fear new round of ICE arrests
(WJBK) - Many Chaldeans in metro Detroit are in fear as Immigration and Customs Enforcement may begin a new round of arrests.
Last month, dozens of local Chaldeans were arrested and held at the Immigration Deportation Center with the threat of being deported. Many of them have been in the United States for several years, or even decades, but face deportation due to a criminal past.
The majority of the local detainees have some sort of criminal history, but their families argue they were convicted of non-violent crimes and many were committed decades ago. Their families also worry they'll face religious persecution if they're sent to Iraq.
Families say deported Chaldeans will be persecuted in Iraq
"ISIS is waiting for us to land. So, I don't know what more we need to do or say [for] the public to wake up and say, this is not a joke," says Lahib Kanona. He'll be reporting to his annual check-in with ICE on Monday, and he fears the worst. He worries he won't be coming home to his wife and kids, who are all American citizens.
Lahib came to Michigan when he was nine months old. He and his family were Chaldean refugees, escaping Iraq. He hasn't left the country since and now worries he'll be sent to a country he doesn't know.
Lahib says he shot at a vehicle in a road rage incident when he was 17. No one was injured, and he served 10 years in prison, losing his green card in the process.
"I was just trying to protect myself; I wasn't trying to hurt nobody. The situation went awry," he says. "I've contributed to this country all my life. Yes, I've committed crimes against this country but I've served my time."
Since then, Lahib worked in the hospitality industry for seven years and he's now in the cell phone business.
"I've just been contributing and paying taxes; there's records of everything," he says.
Lawyers in metro Detroit are prepping clients like Lahib for another round of ICE arrests they believe could happen soon, adding to the hundreds of others awaiting their fate in a jail in Youngstown, Ohio, although currently protected by a stay recently enacted by a Detroit judge.
US judge blocks deportation of Iraqi nationals 2 more weeks
The government says 1,400 Iraqis are under deportation orders nationwide. Most are not in custody.
The deportation has been blocked by the federal judge until at least July 24.
Meanwhile, Lahib can't afford a lawyer and can only hope for the best for his Monday check-in at the ICE offices in Detroit.