Federal immigration officials said on Monday that dozens of Iraqi immigrants who were arrested on Sunday in the Detroit area have criminal records. Under an agreement with the Iraqi government, the detainees will be deported under a deal struck with the Iraqi government. "As a result of recent negotiations between the U.S. and Iraq, Iraq has recently agreed to accept a number of Iraqi nationals subject to orders of removal," said Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Khaalid Walls. Known as ICE, the agency is part of the Department of Homeland Security.
Walls went on to declare, "As part of ICE's efforts to process the backlog of these individuals, the agency recently arrested a number of Iraqi nationals, all of whom had criminal convictions for crimes including homicide, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping, burglary, drug trafficking, robbery, sex assault, weapons violations and other offenses."
Leaders among local Iraqi Christians criticized the raids as overkill. In response, Walls said, “But Walls said: "Each of these individuals received full and fair immigration proceedings, after which a federal immigration judge found them ineligible for any form of relief under U.S. law and ordered them removed."
Estimates of the number detained range as high as 307. They were transported to a detention facility in Youngstown, Ohio.
A crowd gathered outside the Detroit office of ICE on Sunday. The crowd tried to stand in the way of buses that were transporting the detainees to the detention facility. Videos posted to social media show them chanting "Let our people out!" Some Iraqi Christians fear that the US is effectively imposing a “death sentence” on the detainees by returning them to conflictive Muslim-majority Iraq. A majority of the detainees were Christian, said attorneys. Advocates for the Iraqi-American Christian community said that the raids are cruel because Christians are persecuted in Iraq, where they are a minority.
In response, Walls said: "ICE does not target individuals based on religion, ethnicity, gender or race. ICE's enforcement actions target individuals who are subject to immigration enforcement. These efforts are targeted and lead driven. ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately."